Behind The ScenesNFLStudio

Chris Berman visits with undefeated Chiefs head coach Andy Reid for Sunday NFL Countdown

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KC Chiefs coach Andy Reid (Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)
KC Chiefs coach Andy Reid
(Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

Chris Berman has been the face of ESPN’s NFL studio coverage for more than 30 years. He’s the host and quarterback of Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. ET, ESPN) and Monday Night Countdown (6:30 p.m., ESPN) pregame shows, as well as Monday Night Football halftime and Sunday evening highlight segments on SportsCenter.

On special occasions, Berman visits team facilities to interview coaches or players – as he once did regularly in the early years of ESPN. Last week presented one of those opportunities as he traveled to Kansas City, where he visited head coach Andy Reid, who leads the Chiefs – the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team (9-0) – into a weekend showdown against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (8-1).

Berman’s conversation with Reid airs this weekend on Sunday NFL Countdown, and excerpts can be seen beginning at 6 p.m. tonight through Saturday morning on SportsCenter’s popular Two Minute Drill. He discusses his visit to Kansas City with Front Row and how he got to know Reid many years ago.

When did you first get to know Reid?
I’ve known him and his wife, Tammy, a long time – since he was an assistant with Mike Holmgren at the Packers. Then he became head coach of the Eagles and we became friendly. I remember his first draft with the Eagles and he controversially selected Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick. Most people said that was terrible, including the mayor of Philly at the time, Ed Rendell. I said it was not – it was great. He never forgot it. Is that the reason we are friends? I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

How was this first visit to see him in Kansas City?
It was great to see him. He looks different in red. He’s been thrilled from the minute he took this job. He’s thrilled with the attitude of the young kids he’s coaching, and thrilled with their effort. He’s asked them to work as hard as any team he’s ever had and they’ve done everything he’s asked. He told me this earlier this year and, of course, reiterated it in our visit. He’s just thrilled with the whole scene. The 9-0 is really a bonus.

What’s it like for you now when you visit teams to interview coaches or players?
I love the people in the game — the coaches, GMs, players. With all that we do in the studio, it’s hard to get out every week, or every few weeks like I used to do, so I enjoy getting out and seeing some teams.

It’s kind of the way we used to operate here. We had to go out and get something. We didn’t have any other way to interview players unless we did it ourselves. I was schooled in the 1980s. We just rolled up our sleeves and did what we had to do. The faces change with these teams but the football remains great. I’m always anxious to listen and meet and to understand the big picture of the Chiefs, not just interviewing Andy.

Did you expect him to have this success in his first season in Kansas City?
Yes. He’s a really good coach. He has six Pro Bowlers from last year’s 2-14 Chiefs team, so it was not your usual “terrible team.” I predicted them to be a Wild Card team in the AFC on the opening week ‘Swami’, which they still may be if they don’t win their division.

Editor’s Note: In addition to Berman’s interview with Reid, ESPN will have extensive pre- and postgame coverage of the Chiefs-Broncos game this Sunday, including reporter Suzy Kolber and analyst Ron Jaworski at Invesco Field for Sunday NFL Countdown and SportsCenter.

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