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Chris Berman leaving ESPN NFL studio, stays with network in new role

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Polian calls Berman 'the face and voice of cable sports television' (1:54)

The NFL Insiders crew shares its thoughts and memories of Chris Berman, who is stepping down as ESPN NFL studio host. (1:54)

Chris Berman is stepping down from his post of hosting ESPN's NFL studio programming after 31 seasons but will remain with the network in a number of different roles after signing a new contract on Thursday.

Berman, a six-time National Sportscaster of the Year honoree, will remain as ESPN's host of NFL Primetime highlights after the NFL championship week games and the Super Bowl, and will have a role on Monday Night Countdown, offering opinion and perspective on historical events in the NFL. He will also call an MLB division series for ESPN Radio and be part of the ESPY Awards.

Berman will also make appearances on-air in other capacities and serve in other public-facing roles for the company, ESPN said in a statement. He will no longer host the NFL draft or Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby.

"The whole experience here has been a dream come true," Berman, who joined ESPN a month after the network launched, said in the statement. "When we started in 1979, I was just 24. Nobody knew if ESPN would make it, or, for that matter, if cable TV would make it. I certainly wasn't sure I would make it, but I really didn't care. We were too busy having a blast, talking sports with viewers who were just like us, even if it was during the wee hours of the morning. We got to band together here in Bristol, Connecticut, and put out a product of which we were all very proud.

"I've been lucky enough to spend almost two-thirds of my life at ESPN, and I am honored to have lent a small hand in laying the cornerstone for what has truly become a beacon in sports.

"I'm thrilled that this ride will continue, albeit differently. Today's announcement allows me to fulfill perhaps my final professional goal -- knowing that I will finish with the team I came in with."

Berman has hosted Sunday NFL Countdown for 31 seasons and has been part of SportsCenter with his Two Minute Drill for 38 years. From 1987 to 2005, he hosted NFL Primetime with Tom Jackson. He has covered 34 Super Bowls and handled NFL draft coverage for ESPN since 1987.

He was an original SportsCenter anchor and has also called MLB games and U.S. Open golf for ESPN.

No replacement for Berman has been named.

Berman is the 2010 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the first sportscaster to receive the Newseum Institute's Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media in Washington, D.C., this year, and was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame.

"Chris is one of a kind," ESPN president John Skipper said. "His innovation, passion, preparation and on-air acumen have helped define ESPN. He wrote the book on delivering highlights which still serves as the standard to this day. ESPN's mission is to serve fans. No one has done that with greater resonance than Chris and his dramatic connection to fans played a significant role in establishing a successful ESPN. We look forward to Chris's continuing contributions while understanding that his place on our Mount Rushmore is assured."

"Chris is part of the fabric of ESPN, and I have tremendous respect and appreciation for him," said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "He is an iconic sports commentator, who transcends sports, and even after covering thousands and thousands of sports events, his passion has never waned, nor has his enthusiasm for athletes, coaches, and the thrilling drama of athletic competition, to quote another legendary sportscaster."

ESPN will air an hourlong show documenting Berman's career and impact -- "He Did Go All The Way" -- on Feb. 2 at 10:30 p.m. ET.