WASHINGTON — Whether you follow sports or not, Chris Berman’s name should be familiar; he has been around since ESPN began in 1979.
You might have seen him on the network, or in one of the 14 movies he’s appeared in as himself.
You may be a fan of his work, or cringe at the mere mention of the 61-year-old anchor’s name.
Whatever your reaction, his style of using nicknames and trying to say them in their entirety in one breath has lasted ever since he was hired a month after the “four-letter” network began broadcasting, later becoming the face of the company and winning numerous awards.
Berman’s future with the network has been in the news as of late, but at the Newseum in downtown D.C. Tuesday night a humble Berman was presented with this year’s Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media, the first sportscaster to do so.
Finishing the @ANAward2016 dinner w/ our COO @genefac, award recipient Chris Berman & @Newseum CEO @jeffreyherbst pic.twitter.com/ukNil3HyPO
— Newseum Institute (@NewseumInst) June 22, 2016
Berman, emotional after a 30-plus year career flashed before his eyes in a video montage, said that he always tried to “get it right” when he was invited into the audience’s home.
He related several stories from the network’s humble beginnings to the empire it has become, went through sports milestones and events and described how things he and the company did were a result of a “damn the torpedoes” mentality: thinking on your feet and coming up with a solution, whatever the situation.
On receiving the award, he told an audience filled with future journalists “whether it works or not, give it a shot“ referring to their dreams and careers, adding, “be true to yourself and don’t ever wonder what if, 30 years later.”
Berman, a Connecticut native and part-time resident of Maui with his wife, Kathy, and daughter and son, is best known for his work as an NFL studio host, “SportsCenter” anchor, baseball broadcaster and football commentator. He’s also known for his two nicknames: “Boomer,” given to him for his booming voice, and “Swami,” a character Berman broke out to make picks on games for the “Sunday NFL Countdown” show.
In my opinion, Berman, to borrow a catchphrase of his, will be “back, back, back” on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” this season, and like it or not, probably the next few — but only “Swami” (or his bosses) can say for sure.
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