The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton features a museum, and is also surrounded by the Hall of Fame Village development and entertainment campus, which features restaurants, a brewery, football stadium, sports dome, practice fields and a water park that is under construction.

Hall of Fame Game returns to ABC

The 2024 Hall of Fame Game will be broadcast on Aug. 1 by ABC and ESPN.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame said Thursday this will be the first time ESPN has aired the game. It’s sister network, ABC, had rights to the Hall of Fame Game from 1971-2005.

This year’s preseason game in Canton, Ohio, will feature the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” crew of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Lisa Salters will call the game.

Aikman, the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-2000, was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2006.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) walks off the field after overtime win against the Buffalo Bills at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Kelce joins ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Countdown’ crew

Former Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce made his latest roster move official, joining the ESPN family on Tuesday.

Kelce, who retired in March after 13 NFL seasons, will be part of the “Monday Night Countdown” crew.

“Turns out, it was a short retirement! I’m excited to join ESPN, and particularly the Monday Night Countdown team,” said Kelce, 36. “ESPN was a consistent presence in our household growing up and the network helped shape who I am and my love of all sports. To now appear on that same screen is a full circle moment. And, I mean it’s freaking Monday Night Football! and I’m ready for some football.”

Kelce joins Scott Van Pelt, Ryan Clark, Marcus Spears, Adam Schefter and Michelle Beisner-Buck on the team.

“Jason is a highly respected, Super Bowl Champion with a strong connection to fans,” ESPN president of content Burke Magnus said. “Walking off the field and immediately to ESPN, viewers will benefit from his perspective which has been shaped through his years as an established locker room leader and a future Hall of Fame center. Jason’s addition to Monday Night Countdown will greatly strengthen our NFL coverage.”

Kelce’s services were also reportedly sought by CBS, NBC and Amazon.

Drafted in the sixth round (191st overall) in 2011, Kelce became a Super Bowl LII champion and one of the most durable, decorated and respected centers in NFL history — and one of the league’s most passionate players.

The six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection started 205 games for the Eagles, including the postseason.

Kelce is the older brother of Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce. The siblings have a popular podcast called “New Heights.”

–Field Level Media

HYANNIS 01/12/24 A pop-up tribute to longtime Patriots coach Bill Belichick along Barnstable Rd in Hyannis on Friday morning after it was announced Jerod Mayo will be the team's new head coach. 
Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times

Bill Belichick gets weekly spot on ESPN’s ‘ManningCast’

Bill Belichick isn’t coaching an NFL franchise this season, but he’ll still be on television screens often during the 2024 NFL season.

Peyton Manning, who with his brother, Eli, hosts the “ManningCast” on ESPN — officially called “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli” — said the coach will appear on every episode during the upcoming season.

“ManningCast” airs as an alternative viewing format for the majority of, but not all, “Monday Night Football” games.

Peyton Manning told “The Pat McAfee Show” on ESPN on Friday that Belichick will be on the show every week, likely early in the game, to share his expertise.

“That’s the idea, that Bill is going to be a permanent guest on every ‘ManningCast’ show early in the game, probably the first quarter,” Manning explained, “to kind of take people behind the ropes as to what this defense has to do or what the quarterback’s challenges are.”

The Manning brothers have a long history with Bill Belichick, who won six Super Bowl games with the New England Patriots. He and the team, which he started coaching in 2000, mutually split after a 4-13 season in 2023.

Peyton and Tom Brady were the preeminent quarterbacks of their era, engaging in a head-to-head rivalry that saw Brady’s Patriots beat Peyton’s Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos 11 times in 17 attempts.

Eli’s New York Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, to conclude the 2007 and 2011 seasons.

Belichick has been coveted for television jobs, and he agreed to join Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions.

“It was an easy pitch to Bill. I said, ‘Bill, we want you to come on. Look, we’d love to go behind the ropes on the defensive side as to kind of what the Eagles are going to have to do to stop Patrick Mahomes, right?’And if you ever run out of things to say, just make fun of Eli, right? That’s always sort of a time-filler,’” Peyton said.

“And Bill doesn’t like Eli. We all know that — two Super Bowls — so it’s just a match made in heaven.”

–Field Level Media

Mar 30, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Former Philadelphia Eagle Jason Kelce reacts before the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Kelce joining ESPN’s ‘MNF’ pregame show

Recently retired Jason Kelce is joining ESPN this fall to be part of its “Monday Night Countdown” pregame show, The Athletic reported Monday.

Kelce announced his retirement early last month after 13 seasons as the center for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelce was sought after by CBS, NBC and Amazon, per the report. CBS was interested in Kelce for its “NFL Today” show, per the report.

Drafted in the sixth round (191st overall) in 2011, Kelce became a Super Bowl LII champion and one of the most durable, decorated and respected centers in NFL history — and one of the league’s most passionate players.

The six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection started 205 games for the Eagles, including the postseason.

Kelce, 36, is the older brother of Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce. The siblings have a popular podcast called “New Heights.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; The 2024 CFP logo on the field before the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Washington Huskies at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN to keep CFP broadcast rights through ’31

The College Football Playoff is officially staying with ESPN and its family of networks.

ESPN announced a six-year, $7.8 billion deal to retain the media rights to the CFP through the 2031 season, concluding with the national title game in January 2032.

The deal was first reported in February, but it needed ratification after the playoff finalized its new format. The CFP will expand from four teams to 12 starting next season.

The CFP is extending its current deal with ESPN for two years (2024 and 2025) and giving ESPN the four new first-round games on top of the quarterfinals, semifinals and national championship game.

Beginning in 2026, ESPN’s new deal kicks in, and it encompasses all rounds of the playoff, which may expand to 14 teams by that time.

Further, the national championship game will be broadcast on ABC beginning in January 2027 (for the 2026 season), in addition to ESPN’s usual mega-cast of the game.

“ESPN has worked very closely with the College Football Playoff over the past decade to build one of the most prominent events in American sports,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.

“We look forward to enhancing our valued relationship over the next two years, and then continuing it for six more as we embark on this new, expanded playoff era. This agreement further solidifies ESPN as the home of college football, as well as the destination for the vast majority of major college championships for the next eight years.”

According to The Athletic last month, ESPN will have the right to “sublicense” CFP games over the course of the contract to other media organizations or streamers.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; A general view as the Washington Huskies take the field before to the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Conferences, CFP agree on financial terms for expanded playoffs

Officials with the College Football Playoff, the nine FBS conferences and independent Notre Dame have agreed to the next playoff contract, which will take effect in 2026, ESPN reported Friday.

Under terms of the agreement, the CFP will include at least 12 teams starting in 2026 and moving forward, though expansion to 14 teams remains on the table and is considered likely to happen sooner rather than later.

Four teams have been part of the CFP since its inception for the 2014 season.

“Anything else regarding format is to be determined,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said Friday, per ESPN. “This is a very important next step for CFP, of course, and we do still have details to be finalized regarding the format, but I want to stress that the really good news is that football fans will continue to see the best teams in the country competing for the national championship on the playing field. This arrangement will also ensure the expanded access will continue to be in place. We firmly believe this, about the importance of a competitive opportunity for more programs and more players and more fans. We’re pleased to be in the position we’re in, while we know there’s still more work to be done.”

Per ESPN, the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference will take the lead in establishing the format of future playoffs beyond guaranteed berths for conference champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC, as well as the highest-ranked team from Group of Five champions. Notre Dame was assured it will have “protections” as the format evolves, ESPN reported.

The conferences and Notre Dame also agreed on annual compensation for each conference. Big Ten and SEC schools each will receive more than $21 million, the ACC schools will get upward of $13 million, and Notre Dame and Big 12 members will be paid more than $12 million.

Group of Five schools will receive $1.8 million — a raise of $300,000 — and Washington State and Oregon State will earn $360,000. The two Pacific Northwest schools find themselves as the remaining two members of the Pac-12, and, at least for now, are independents.

These new payouts coincide with an upcoming contract with ESPN, in which the network is expected to spend an average of about $1.3 billion on the CFP in each of the next six seasons.

That’s about three times the amount per season that ESPN has paid for the four-team playoff, Yahoo Sports said.

–Field Level Media

The ESPN logo is seen on an electronic display in Times Square in New York on Aug. 23, 2017.

Veteran NFL reporter Chris Mortensen dies at 72

Chris Mortensen, an award-winning NFL reporter who spent the bulk of his decorated career with ESPN, died on Sunday, the network announced. He was 72.

Mortensen, affectionately known by his colleagues as “Mort,” announced last September that he had stepped away from ESPN following that April’s NFL draft to “focus on (his) health, family and faith.”

“Mort was widely respected as an industry pioneer and universally beloved as a supportive, hard-working teammate,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “He covered the NFL with extraordinary skill and passion, and was at the top of his field for decades. He will truly be missed by colleagues and fans, and our hearts and thoughts are with his loved ones.”

Mortensen took a leave of absence from his job in 2016 to undergo treatment for Stage 4 throat cancer. That same year, he broke the news that Peyton Manning would retire.

Before joining ESPN in 1991, Mortensen worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the short-lived sports publication The National.

He received a George Polk Award in 1987 and was given the Dick McCann Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

“An absolutely devastating day,” ESPN reporter Adam Schefter wrote Sunday on social media. “Mort was one of the greatest reporters in sports history, and an even better man. Sincerest condolences to his family, and all who knew and loved him. So many did. Mort was the very best. He will be forever missed and remembered.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; The 2024 CFP logo on the field before the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Washington Huskies at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: College Football Playoff, ESPN reach $7.8B extension

The College Football Playoff agreed to a six-year extension of its broadcast deal with ESPN worth $7.8 billion, The Athletic reported on Monday.

The deal keeps all CFP games on ESPN’s family of networks through the 2031 season, concluding with the national title game in January 2032.

However, the contract won’t be ratified until CFP leadership irons out the format of the tournament going forward.

The playoff will expand from four to 12 teams for the first time next year, and the original agreement was to include the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six highest-ranked at-large teams — the so-called 6+6 model.

With the Pac-12 set to fold following the current season, the number of power conferences shrinks, and some league commissioners are pushing to modify the format to 5+7, which most likely would keep the field at one “Group of Five” conference champion.

The extension kicks in for the 2026 season, but for the next two years ESPN still controls the rights to all games, including the new first round and quarterfinals.

According to the report, ESPN will have the right to “sublicense” CFP games over the course of the contract to other media organizations or streamers.

–Field Level Media

Jan 13, 2024; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; University of Alabama former head coach Nick Saban attends a press conference to introduce the new head football coach Kalen DeBoer (not pictured) in the North end zone at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban joins ESPN as college football analyst

Nick Saban is making a comeback to college football.

ESPN announced Wednesday that Saban is joining its Saturday College GameDay program as an analyst. He’ll also provide NFL draft and SEC Media Days analysis.

“ESPN and College GameDay have played such an important role in the growth of college football, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to join their team,” Saban said in the release. “I’ll do my best to offer additional insights and perspectives to contribute to College GameDay, the ultimate Saturday tradition for college football fans.”

Saban, 72, retired from coaching last month after 17 seasons at Alabama, where he won six of his seven national titles. He finished with a career mark of 297-71-1, 206 of those wins coming at Alabama (with 29 losses). Alabama quickly hired Kalen DeBoer as his replacement.

Saban began his head coaching career at Toledo in 1990. He coached Michigan State from 1995-1999 before accepting the head coaching job at LSU in 2000. He won his first national title in 2003 at LSU.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8)  walks off of the field before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers out as guest on Pat McAfee’s show

Aaron Rodgers has been cut — by “The Pat McAfee Show.”

McAfee announced at the outset of Wednesday’s show on ESPN that the New York Jets quarterback will no longer appear this season. Rodgers had been scheduled to appear throughout the NFL playoffs, the New York Post reported.

“So ‘Aaron Rodgers Tuesday,’ Season 4, is done,” McAfee told his audience. “There could be a lot of people that are happy with that, myself included, to be honest with you. The way it ended, it got real loud. I am happy that he’s not going to be in my mentions going forward, which is great news.”

McAfee’s decision comes in the wake of Rodgers last week suggesting, falsely, that ABC late-night TV show host Jimmy Kimmel’s name was on soon-to-be-released court documents of people connected to convicted pedophile, the late Jeffrey Epstein, who would ferry friends and associates to his Caribbean island to have trysts with underage girls.

McAfee apologized for his role in Rodgers’ comments about Kimmel but the QB did not.

Disney owns both ABC and ESPN.

In his appearance on Tuesday, Rodgers went after Kimmel some more and ranted about COVID vaccines. He also ribbed sportswriters and an ESPN executive. Rodgers’ beef with Kimmel dates to 2021, when the comedian first went after Rodgers for his cryptic comments about being “immunized” against COVID and then testing positive for the virus.

It was apparently enough for McAfee, who has said previously he paid seven figures for Rodgers’ weekly appearances.

“We’ve given a lot of people who have been waiting for us to fail a lot of ammo, and things to attack us for over the last week,” McAfee said Wednesday. “And we would love to get back to the point where we just move on.”

–Field Level Media