NFL

Impressionist Dean Edwards brings his Denzel, coach Tomlin, more to Sunday Countdown

What stood out to us with Dean was his spot-on impressions of pop culture personalities – from Denzel to Jay Z to Tracy Morgan.
– Greg Jewell, coordinating producer for Sunday NFL Countdown, on adding Dean Edwards to the roster

“Saturday Night Live” alum Dean Edwards will make his Sunday NFL Countdown debut this week (11 a.m. ET, ESPN) with a piece that offers a facetious look at how so many high-profile quarterbacks have gone down with injuries this season.

For the segment, Edwards plays multiple characters: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, “SNL” and “30 Rock” actor Tracy Morgan, award-winning actor Denzel Washington, and ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter.

“What stood out to us with Dean was his spot-on impressions of pop culture personalities – from Denzel to Jay Z to Tracy Morgan,” said Greg Jewell, coordinating producer for Sunday NFL Countdown. “We will work with him to add more NFL personalities to his repertoire.”

Dean will complement comedian Frank Caliendo, who has received much praise since joining ESPN’s NFL pregame show in 2011. (Spoiler alert: Caliendo even makes a cameo in Edwards’ piece this weekend.) After taping his first Countdown segment with ESPN feature producer Meghan Robinson last week, Edwards spoke with Front Row.

What’s it like for you to be part of Sunday NFL Countdown?
It is exciting to be part of a great team. I am surrounded by greatness. Hopefully, I can be great. It was awesome meeting the crew. Especially, since I am doing something with C.C. (Cris Carter). It is great to get that co-sign and to have that support. When you spoof people, they are not always happy that you are doing it.

In Frank Caliendo’s “Under the Hoodie” spoof of Bill Belichick, you played Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. What kind of response did you get for that?
Fans dug my rendition of Richard Sherman. I was happy to do it. The response was amazing because it was for the Super Bowl show. As a New Yorker, I don’t know how I felt about the Patriots winning. But, because they won, I know they ran it a couple more times. That’s a good look for me.

How much NFL do you watch, and are you a fan of a particular team?
I watch mainly on Sundays because, in my mother-in-law’s house, that’s what you do. You sit down, you get some stewed chicken, Escovitch fish, and some brown beans and rice and hopefully watch the Giants. As a New Yorker, it is Giants or Jets. I go with Giants.

Which ESPN commentator do you think you can emulate the best?
Right now, Cris Carter. However, Keyshawn Johnson [an ESPN NFL analyst] said the day we met, “You can’t do me.” They [the Countdown panel] said he’s hard to do. I said you shouldn’t have just issued me that challenge. If I can do Denzel Washington this well, it is possible to get you, too.

How often have you worked with Caliendo?
Frank reached out to me about two years ago and said “I do these things for ESPN, if you ever have any ideas, let me know.” Right before the Super Bowl, I thought about something. So when he called me and said we are doing this thing for the Super Bowl, I said that’s psychic energy because I have this Richard Sherman thing I am writing. So it was perfect.

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