BRISTOL, CT – ESPN brass held their breath this past Sunday afternoon after the overwhelming weight of NFL Countdown’s 14 analysts caused the panel to collapse through the floor, crashing directly into a Cold Pizza walkthrough. Hosts Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, and Trey Wingo, along with analysts Tom Jackson, Steve Young, Michael Irvin, Ron Jaworski, Chris Mortenson, Sean Salisbury, Mike Golic, Mark Schlereth, Eric Allen, John Clayton and Merril Hoge (left without a seat) had been debating over who would be participating in an exciting 3-on-3 “loose ball fumble” simulation set to take place on the plastic, ultra-realistic, 5’ x 8’ studio football field during the next segment.
Ron Jaworski (seated third from right) was the first analyst to sense the floor buckling.
“It all started when Schlereth only offered Golic two and a half feet of his six foot ‘party hero’, you could just feel the tension. Then Golic really lost it when he found out Schlereth would be manning the one-man offensive line for Steve in the fumble segment,” explained John Clayton, who had a giant bandage wrapped around his forehead. “He reached over Trey to grab at Mark and all of the sudden Jaworski screamed that he heard a crack, and then I noticed the desk was starting to cave in. I think I blacked out after that. When I came to, I was one floor lower and trapped under the Cold Pizza couch with Mort and Woody Paige. An awful day to say the least.”
Adding insult to injury, Countdown producer Darren Cartwright, in a state of shock, neglected to send it to commercial break, giving viewers live footage of the hilarious scene. Stuart Scott and Cold Pizza’s angry hawk, Skip Bayless, were seen getting into a shoving match over whose suit had brighter pinstripes, while Jaworkski and Wingo fled the disastrous scene eventually finding cover in Woody Paige’s deluxe tanning bed. In another corner, apparently unaware cameras were still rolling, Salisbury cornered Clayton and proceeded to give him an atomic wedgie while repeatedly referring to him as ‘McFly’ and claiming he ‘missed a spot’ on his car. Sensing desperation, a production assistant on set rushed to an unconscious Chris Berman but failed in his attempt to wake him with smelling salts. In a last ditch effort, the assistant ran to the food spread, filled a pint glass with blue cheese and held it under Berman’s nose as he awoke within seconds, finally sending the show to commercial break.
Several employees remained on set, some assisting with the clean-up while others quietly chuckled in small groups, rehashing the events that just occurred. According to studio engineer and soon to be fired, Jerry Lemmons, the writing was on the wall. “I knew this was going to happen, and I tried to warn them. It’s a logistical nightmare,” he said. “Any time you’re putting the weight equivalent of six elephants on a studio stage, it’s bound to end badly. I mean, their suits alone weigh 1,000 pounds.”
ESPN spokesman Cleveland Garystein declined comment on this story.
Additional reporting by J.Hamel