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ESPN names Samantha Ponder as ‘Sunday NFL Countdown’ host

ESPN on Thursday confirmed what’s long been rumored about the status of its flagship NFL pregame show: Samantha Ponder will replace Chris Berman as host of “Sunday NFL Countdown.”

Berman is stepping back from many of his duties with ESPN and taking on a lesser, new role. The network announced via statement Thursday that Suzy Kolber and Trey Wingo will also step in to fill the holes in ESPN’s NFL-related hosting lineup.

Kolber will serve as host of “Monday Night Countdown” as well as the Monday Night Football Halftime/Postgame coverage.

Wing will replace Berman at the NFL Draft, serving as host for all three days of coverage.

“We have three exceptional hosts in Suzy, Sam and Trey, who will usher in this new era of NFL studio coverage on ESPN,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN Senior Vice President, Studio and Event Production, via the statement. “They each have a unique style and approach, yet they all share a passion for the game of football that is evident to viewers. We look forward to this group being the face of our NFL studio coverage for many years ahead on ESPN.”

It’s been long known that Berman would not be returning as host of the pregame show, but speculation abounded regarding who would replace him. Ponder, who previously served as correspondent and contributor on the network’s “College GameDay” since 2012, also served as host of “College Football Live” and has served as a college football and basketball sideline reporter.

Ponder not surprisingly is excited about the tremendous career opportunity.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of the ‘Sunday NFL Countdown’ family,” said Ponder. “There is no such thing as replacing Chris Berman, but the chance to build on his incredible legacy while simultaneously taking new risks to serve NFL fans is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Ponder, who joined ESPN in 2011, is married to free agent NFL quarterback Christian Ponder. The couple wed in 2012 and have one daughter, Bowden Saint-Claire, who is three years old. Ponder is currently pregnant with the couple’s second child as well.

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