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#TBT: Sunday, Football Sunday at ESPN through the decades

Pete Axthelm with Tom Jackson and Chris Berman taking in the Sunday games in ESPN’s Newsroom in 1987. Photo credit: Rick LaBranche
Pete Axthelm (left) with Tom Jackson (center) and Chris Berman taking in the Sunday games in ESPN’s newsroom in 1987. (Rick LaBranche/ESPN)

Welcome to another edition of Front Row’s #TBT: Throwback Thursday.

1987: The year that ESPN began televising NFL games, Tom Jackson joined the network as a studio analyst. Fresh off his 13 NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, Jackson started working with Chris Berman and the late Pete Axthelm on ESPN’s NFL GameDay pregame and new NFL PrimeTime highlights show.

The photo above was taken of ESPN’s NFL trio in the fall of 1987 as they watched afternoon games between shows.

The Sunday NFL Countdown promo video below, debuting today on ESPN’s platforms, also produces a fun ride through the decades of Berman’s 34 years of covering the NFL for ESPN.

Fast forward to today, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.

While the number of screens, the size of the room and the number of NFL experts have all multiplied three or four–fold over the last 20-plus years, Berman (circled left below) and Jackson (circled right) still continue the tradition of watching NFL games each week in between Sunday NFL Countdown and the 7 p.m. edition of SportsCenter when they break down all the day’s highlights.

In fact, it’s probably the most fun place to watch the games, surrounded by ESPN analysts, producers, Fantasy Insiders, and more, and every last one of them is yelling, cheering and hollering . . . just like normal NFL fans.

The NFL Countdown crew keeps tabs on the day’s plays in a conference room on a recent Sunday afternoon. Photo Credit: Laurel Daggett
The NFL Countdown crew keeps tabs on the day’s plays in a conference room on a recent Sunday afternoon.
(Laurel Daggett/ESPN)
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