ESPN announced Tuesday that Cris Carter would replace Emmitt Smith on "Sunday NFL Countdown," with Smith contributing to SportsCenter on Sunday mornings and also continuing to appear on site on "Monday Night Countdown."
Smith struggled at times to speak English clearly on live TV in his rookie season last year. Carter is a more polished pro who made the move after the demise of HBO's version of "Inside the NFL."
ESPN said reporters Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya "will have a major studio role," offering reports on each MNF team before and after games.
Click below for the official news release.
Former All Pro wide receiver Cris Carter has been named an analyst for Sunday NFL Countdown (11 a.m. ET) and Monday Night Countdown (7 p.m.), ESPN’s popular NFL pre-game studio shows. In addition, Emmitt Smith will move this fall from Sunday NFL Countdown to the new expanded Sunday morning editions of SportsCenter (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.) where he will offer insight and analysis during NFL segments. Smith will also continue to travel to the Monday Night Football game site each week for Monday Night Countdown.
Carter, a 16-year NFL veteran, joined ESPN in April and has been contributing analysis to NFL Live, SportsCenter and other programs, including ESPN’s presentation of the 2008 NFL Draft. Prior to ESPN, Carter was an analyst for HBO’s Inside the NFL. Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, joined ESPN prior to last season. During the new one-hour editions of SportsCenter on Sunday mornings, he will help kickoff the day’s pro football coverage as ESPN looks ahead to the NFL schedule.
“Cris is a tremendous addition to our Sunday and Monday Countdown shows and we anticipate that he will bring lively discussion and great chemistry to both programs,” said Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production, ESPN. “Also, the Sunday morning SportsCenter will include even more NFL discussion with the program’s expanded 30 minutes this fall, and Emmitt will add to that.”
Chris Berman, in his 30th season covering the NFL for ESPN, will continue to anchor both Countdown shows. Berman is the longest-running host of a weekly pro football studio show, now entering his 23rd consecutive year as host of Sunday NFL Countdown, which has captured seven Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Studio Show. The two-hour pre-game also features analysts Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson, and NFL insider Chris Mortensen. Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young will continue to contribute weekly taped analysis. Correspondents Bob Holtzman, Rachel Nichols, Wendi Nix, Sal Paolantonio and Ed Werder will provide live stadium reports, as well as features, with additional features by Greg Garber and Kenny Mayne.
The 90-minute Monday Night Countdown pre-game will include: Berman, Carter, Ditka, Jackson, Johnson and Mortensen in ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios, as well as Stuart Scott, Smith and Young from the Monday Night Football city each week. (In 2007, Countdown included Bill Parcells, who was hired as the Miami Dolphins President of Football Operations in December.) In addition, reporters Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya will have a major studio role this season, providing live “Teams at 20” updates every 20 minutes on multiple ESPN programs throughout the day -- from NFL Live at 3:30 p.m. leading up to the MNF kickoff at 8:30 p.m. – and during the MNF post-game.