December 5th, 2012 by Colin M Jarman
2002 – NASN IS LAUNCHED !!
December 5th … it all started back then! And the North American Sports Network went on to become ESPN America – as it is today!
To celebrate this milestone, we looked back at the last ten years and came up with our “Most Memorable Moments” from each year to remind us all of what a journey it has been …
2003 – Michael Jordan retires … for good!
Jordan scored just 15 points in his final NBA game on April 16 in Philadelphia against the 76ers. But he will be remembered for being the greatest ever basketball player … but for how long? Three months later LeBron James entered the NBA as the first overall draft pick of the Cavs!
2004 – Boston Red Sox win World Series for first time in 86 years.
Factor in the 0-3 comeback for the ages against the hated Yankees in the ALCS then a sweep of the Cardinals in the Fall Classic itself and the Curse of the Bambino was well and truly laid to rest.
2005 – 18-year-old Sidney Crosby’s Pro Debut.
Drafted Number One in the NHL Draft, Crosby was so highly touted he was nicknamed “The Next One” by the experts. In his first year with the Penguins, Crosby recorded franchise records for a rookie in assists (63) and points (102). “Sid the Kid” as he was more popularly known also became the youngest player in NHL history to score 100 points in a single season … and the rest is history.
2006 – Vince Young leads Texas to BCS Title and #1 ranking.
With 19 seconds left of a pulsating Rose Bowl, Longhorns’ QB Vince Young ran for his third touchdown to edge the favorites USC (with Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart) 41-38 in one of the greatest college football games ever played.
2007 – Anaheim Wins the Stanley Cup.
Having lost its only previous Stanley Cup appearance in 2003, a rebuilt Mighty Ducks team (only four players remained from the earlier Final) memorably won its first Cup after only joining the NHL in 1993. Led by Conn Smythe MVP defenseman Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim only lost Game 3 as they downed the Senators 4-1.
2008 – Giants beat unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl.
In one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets, 12-point underdog New York downed 18-0 New England 17–14 in Super Bowl XLII. Down 10-17 with less than three minutes to play, Eli Manning made two memorable passes. First, to David Tyree – the “Helmet Catch” – for 32-yards, then a 13-yard game-winning strike to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining.
2009 – Steelers wins record sixth Super Bowl title.
Pittsburgh beat the Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII behind a couple of memorable plays. First, linebacker James Harrison’s return an interception 100 yards for a touchdown and Super Bowl record. Then, to win the game, the Steelers drove 78 yards to score on Santonio Holmes’ 6-yard TD catch with 35 seconds left.
2010 – The Year of the Pitcher.
In May, the As’ Dallas Braden threw a perfect game against the Rays. 20 days later Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game against the Marlins. Three days later the Tigers’ Armando Galaraga was robbed of a third perfecto in three weeks when umpire Jim Joyce unforgettably blew the final out at first base. In October, Halladay went on to pitch the second ever no-hitter in the MLB postseason against the Reds.
2011 – Jeter’s 3000th hit with a Home Run
Having surpassed Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees’ all-time hits leader, team captain and shortstop Derek Jeter left his greatest drama to collecting his historic 3000th hit with a home run off the Rays’ David Price at home in Yankee Stadium. Seen live on ESPN America, this was one memorable moment we could all share in.
2012 – Luck & RG3 drafted #1 & #2
After a memorable college football season Robert Griffin III may have beaten Andrew Luck to the Heisman Trophy, but the Stanford QB was taken with the first overall draft pick by the Colts (replacing Peyton Manning no less). Washington traded up to take RG3 with the second overall pick and the stage was set to see who would be the better pro quarterback. Both started their first games of this NFL season and both have already proved to be elite QBs in the making. And it is still impossible to tell who is the better QB!
Do you agree with our Memorable Moments from the last Ten Years?
If not, click here to go to our Facebook page and leave your own sporting highlight of the last ten years and see what other viewers / sports fans have to say.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
To read what it was like right back at the the dawn of NASN / ESPN America, we asked our College Sports Blogger and Director of Programming Patrick Sturgeon to take a trip down memory. And anyone who has read any of Paddy’s blog will know he loves to ramble down memory lane!
“ESPN America (formally NASN) was launched on Dec 5, 2002 in Dublin, Ireland by an Irish company called Setanta. For the first few days, we ran a five-minute promo on a loop asking people to subscribe to the channel. The channel’s first real event was a replay of a college basketball game between Indiana and Maryland, which was a rematch of the previous National Championship game. A few hours later, NASN showed their first live event, a Saturday afternoon NHL game, St Louis at Philadelphia (the founder of the channel, Amory Schwartz was from Philly, so no big surprise.)
In those days, we only had two incoming SD feeds so we could show one event live and record another one for playback later. The games were down linked in New York City and sent via fiber to London and then on to Dublin. The original two territories were Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Our staff was very small by television standards. We had Amory Schwartz (CEO), Russ Manning (Scheduling Director), one presentation scheduler, one satellite booker. one promo producer and myself (Director of Programming). We also had a group of eight transmission controllers, who hailed from Ireland and know more about soccer, rugby and Gaelic sports than North American sports. The early days were challenging to say the least, but what we lacked in experience and head count, we made up for with enthusiasm and fandom.
Two years after the start, Dec 5, 2004, we launched a second channel into mainland Europe in five countries including Germany and Holland.
On Dec 5, 2006, four years to the day the channel launched, ESPN announced publically they were buying NASN from Setanta Sports. On Feb 1, 2009 we changed the name from NASN to ESPN America - and here we still are
Through it all, I’ve learned that American sports does translate. OK, the infield fly rule and the BCS maybe a bit hard to explain, but I believe that the core of our audience appreciates the history, tradition and passion that is behind just about every game that we show on the channel.
Happy 10th Anniversary ESPN America. I feel like a proud papa.
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