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ESPN Set to Add Vermeil for Game

Times Staff Writer

ESPN, which kicks off its regular-season coverage of “Monday Night Football” on Sept. 11 with a doubleheader, is expected to announce today that it has hired Dick Vermeil to work the second game as a commentator.

The former UCLA and NFL coach will join play-by-play announcer Brad Nessler and commentator Ron Jaworski for a game at Oakland between the Raiders and San Diego Chargers. ESPN will televise that game about 7:15 p.m. Pacific time, after Minnesota at Washington, which will begin at 4 p.m. PDT.

ESPN’s regular “Monday Night Football” team of Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser will announce the first game.

Between coaching stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams, Vermeil, 69, worked as a television commentator for CBS and ABC for 15 years. He returned to coaching in 1997 and, two years later, led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans. He retired as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs after last season.

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NFL Network recently announced it will use Vermeil as a commentator on two Saturday night NFL games and two college bowl games this season. Vermeil will fill in for Cris Collinsworth alongside Bryant Gumbel on the Dallas-Atlanta game Dec. 16 and the Kansas City-Oakland game Dec. 23. Collinsworth has NBC commitments those nights.

Vermeil also will work the Dec. 29 Insight Bowl and the Jan. 27 Senior Bowl with play-by-play announcer Mike Mayock for the NFL Network.

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Fox Sports has scheduled a news conference today to announce that, as earlier reported by The Times, Joe Buck will serve as the host of its NFL pregame shows while retaining his role as the network’s lead NFL play-by-play announcer.

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That means the show will go on the road and be broadcast from whatever game Buck is announcing with lead commentator Troy Aikman.

The exceptions will be three Sundays during the baseball postseason, when Buck is announcing the playoffs and World Series. On those dates, Curt Menefee will fill in as the host and the show, which features studio commentators Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson, will be broadcast from the Fox studios in Los Angeles.

Throughout the season, Menefee will serve as the host during the halftime segments.

Buck succeeds James Brown, who left Fox to become the host of CBS’ “The NFL Today” pregame show.

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