John Madden signed a six-year contract to be the analyst on NBC's broadcasts of NFL games on Sunday nights beginning in 2006, the network announced yesterday.
The former Oakland Raiders coach first will spend the upcoming season teamed in the ABC broadcast booth with play-by-play announcer Al Michaels for a fourth year on "Monday Night Football." ABC loses the NFL after the Super Bowl, with ESPN set to take over the Monday night games in 2006 and NBC getting the Sunday night package that now belongs to ESPN.
"We're starting something new, something different," Madden said in a conference call with reporters. "I'll be working with [NBC Universal Sports and Olympics Chairman] Dick Ebersol. The pregame show will be big. It's just exciting. I just thought, 'Doggone it, this is going to be good.' "
Ebersol said he courted Madden ever since NBC agreed with the NFL in April to a six-year deal in which the network will pay the league a rights fee of about $600 million per season. NBC will televise Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012 under the deal, and plans a one-hour pregame show prior to its regular season telecasts.
Ebersol said he envisions a two-man NBC broadcast booth. The network could pursue Michaels after he finishes broadcasting the NBA Finals. Ebersol said he also foresees Madden serving as his chief adviser on the decisions the network will make under its flexible-scheduling agreement with the NFL, by which some late-season games could be shifted to prime time to ensure attractive matchups for viewers.
Madden, 69, said he also spoke to ESPN but never considered retirement.
"That's something that never crossed my mind, that I'm not going to be doing this," he said. "This is something I love. It's what I do. It's who I am."
-- Mark Maske