"The Swami" is saying goodbye.
Chris Berman, the longtime ESPN analyst, is retiring at the conclusion of the 2016 season, The Big Lead reported Thursday night. Berman is in the final year of his contract and won't look for another analyst gig, per the report, though ESPN declined to comment.
Berman, 61, began heading ESPN's NFL coverage in 1979, bringing an enthused and catch-phrase charged approach to NFL coverage unlike we'd ever seen. Over his three-and-a-half decades hosting "Sportscenter" and NFL programming including "Sunday Night Countdown" and draft coverage, he helped the NFL gain its massive popularity by appealing to younger generations of fans.
It's unclear who'll step into Berman's role as ESPN continues its face-lift, recently seeing other leading personalities and bread winners including Mike Tirico and Skip Bayless depart, but The Big Lead suggests Suzy Kolber will be strongly endorsed internally.
The way we see it
Although Berman unfortunately goes somewhat "rumbling and bumbling" into retirement after his coverage has slipped in recent years, we think NFL fans owe him a ton of gratitude for being an integral part of covering the league while its popularity continuously soared.
There was certainly some level of self-indulgence to Berman's approach, but it also brought a lighthearted feel to the game and a way of humanizing its biggest stars. We wish Berman the best of luck in the next chapter. ESPN might need some luck, too, looking to replace another giant, the longest-tenured member and face of its network.