It’s OK, kids, you can come out now — at least Berman isn’t going to the NFL Network. Or CBS. Or NBC. Or Fox. Or Oxygen. Or …


It’s all about containment at this point.

ESPN is in lockdown — Chris Berman isn’t leaving the building.

In a press release this morning that clearly explains the situation — it is entitled “Chris Berman Signs Extension to Remain with ESPN” — the network, which continues to spread itself across everything that is ABC, effectively gives the sports viewing public a reasonable plan of viewing attack as it prepares to move forward.

Berman, the (fill-the-blank)-pound gorilla (depending on how many endorsements he has left with Applebys or NutriSystem), was rumored to be in contact with the NFL Network about the possibly of coming over to spread himself across the league-owned channel and perhaps wiping out the Smarmy Germ (also known as (I-AM-ONE) that has infected the place since the hiring of former ESPN anchor Rich Eisen.

In effect, ESPN has chosen to keep the person it hired in October of 1979 to continue as “the lead voice and face” of ESPN’s NFL studio coverage, and do play-by-play on the MLB Home Run Derby, plus work on U.S. open golf.

The rest of the information, from ESPN headquarters:

Berman’s extension ensures that he will remain a fixture on ESPN’s NFL Sundays. His 25 years as host of Sunday NFL Countdown (formerly NFL Gameday) – which pre-dates ESPN’s first NFL television contract – is by far the longest streak ever among all weekly pro football studio show hosts. Berman is also a fan favorite for his signature calls on NFL highlights, for which he earned widespread acclaim as host of the classic NFL PrimeTime from 1987-2005.

“Chris has contributed so much to our company’s success in reaching sports fans for more than three decades, and we are thrilled that one of the most important figures in our history will remain a vital part of ESPN’s future,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer.

Added ESPN Executive Vice President, Content John Skipper: “Chris will continue to be the face and voice of ESPN, delivering sports news, expert storytelling and, of course, his signature highlights with the same passion, energy and enthusiasm that has resonated with fans since he first arrived in Bristol in 1979.”

Said Berman: “Home is where the heart is, and I am thrilled to be staying home at ESPN for years to come. It’s been a privilege to work alongside my colleagues and an honor to be welcomed into the homes of sports fans for over 30 years. In fact, since this all began in 1979, that means we’ve been together for parts of five decades. I can’t wait to continue the journey.”

This week Berman will also occupy his familiar host position on ESPN’s main set at the 2010 NFL Draft – Thursday, April 22 (7:30-11 p.m. ET) and Friday, April 23 (6-10:30 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2). Berman has covered the Draft for 30 years and hosted ESPN’s annual telecast since 1987.

At least we don’t have to call Kick-Ass to take care of this potential mess.

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