NFL ON FOX Conference Call: John Madden

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Full text of John Madden's teleconference with reporters

Q: Any thoughts on a potential new partner for next year? John Madden: I haven¿t thought about it at all. I talked to Pat about this on Friday morning, when he told me. It didn¿t really set it until [Tuesday] when the announcement came out. I heard and read about it. It was like a kick in the stomach. You think for 21 years you¿ve been with someone and you¿re not gonna be with them anymore. We have the championship game and we have the Super Bowl game and that¿s it. It¿s been 21 more-than-great years. I haven¿t thought about what¿s next or who¿s next. I¿m thinking about what¿s happening now, and this championship game will be the second to the last time we¿ll ever do this. Then the Super Bowl, the biggest game of the year, our biggest game will be our last together.

Memories of his time with Pat

Q: Do you have some good Pat stories and highlights to share? JM: You think of 21 years and all of the games that we did and then you multiply that by four because we¿ll come in Thursday night ¿ we¿ll be together Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. All those games you multiply it by four days together. It¿s been 21 Thanksgivings, every Thanksgiving a lot of Christmas Eves and Christmas and those types of things. As far as memories of Pat, I'd say that I¿m not the smoothest guy or the easiest to get along with I kind of go up and down a little, and in 21 years we¿ve never had a cross word, not one argument, That¿s because of him. If you can¿t get along with Pat Summerall, you can¿t get along with anyone. Every time you see Pat, he has a story, two or three jokes. He¿s the best storyteller, the best joketeller ¿ he can remember them. Those are the things that I remember, the dinners, card games we used to play, watching film, going to practice. The one unforgettable thing was the first Super Bowl that we ever did [between San Francisco and Cincinnati]. Right before the game, they take a shot of me and he puts on his headset. I¿m talking, talking, talking¿ I look at him and he¿s standing there without his headset on so I¿m thinking, ¿What the heck¿s wrong?¿ but I couldn¿t say anything because my mike is live. Everyone starts pointing down at me, pointing down low. I didn¿t know what the heck they were pointing at. I finally stood up. I was sitting on his headset. He just picked it up, put it on, and said ¿and now for the coin toss.¿¿ That¿s Pat Summerall ¿ when I first started with him I was all over the place, he could take something and say it in one sentence. In 21 years, he did it a million times. Q: Did Pat let you know beforehand of his plans? JM: No. He and I have never talked about it. The first time we talked about it was this past Friday morning. You hear stories and stuff but I never paid attention to any of it. I figured if I¿m going to hear anything, I¿m going to hear it from Pat first and I did. Q: Why do you think Part made his announcement in the midst of the playoffs? JM: I think that¿s why Pat did this (Tuesday), to get it out of the way so it didn¿t interfere. Sometimes all of this coaching stuff and this gossip, all of these thing move and take away from the championship game¿we play all year to get to championship game and then some of these stories about coaching ¿ when Tony Dungy signs a five-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts, that¿s a story. I¿m talking about the gossip with these guys, will he be back? Until that happens, that shouldn¿t interfere with the games. Q: As a ¿creature of habit¿ liking to work with the same people, how are you going to be affected? JM: I don¿t know because I haven¿t thought about it, but it will affect me big time. There are some things in life you can¿t replace. Pat¿s one of them. You look at him as a broadcast partner, but in addition to that he¿s a gentleman, he¿s been very helpful to me, he will never be replaced. Q: Was there any FOX pressure on Pat to do something? JM: All I know is what [Pat] told me that he¿d talked to David Hill and Ed Goren and after that conversation he decided that¿s what he was going to do. We were lucky in the 21 years we were together was really the heyday of sports television. I don¿t know what direction its going now. That stuff was more important to me than anything else. That was just Friday morning, on Saturday we didn¿t talk about it and Sunday, the day of the game, we didn¿t. It really didn¿t hit me until yesterday -- 21 years and we only have two more games. Q: Will you still do things with Pat away from FOX? JM:I don¿t know. I just got to this thing and I haven¿t really thought about what we¿ll do or what¿s the next step. You¿re with someone that long and you¿re not going to be anymore, it¿s a thing that takes a while to sit there in my gut and churn around for a while before ¿What¿s next?¿ Maybe I¿ll think about in March or April or something, but I¿m not thinking about it now. I¿m thinking about the championship game this week, then the Super Bowl the week after. Those are pretty big things in both of our lives.

On the AFC championship game

Q: Could you share your thoughts on the Patriots' season? JM: It¿s an amazing story. There¿s nothing I would put by the Patriots. I watched the other night in the snow. I wish I would have been there for that part of that game¿a team against the elements. I know this¿when I talk to head coaches and offensive coordinators around the league, I know there¿s not more respect for anyone's defense than Bill Belichick¿s. They¿ll talk about the quarterback situation with Tom Brady, very quickly after that they go to Bill Belichick and his defense, how he does things you don¿t expect. He¿s always better prepared for you than you are for him. They have a pretty good shot, but Pittsburgh is playing well too, with or without Jerome Bettis. Kordell Stewart is now really playing with confidence, you can see that. Their defense is so good. For some reason Pittsburgh always has good defense. These are two good coaches in Belichick and Bill Cowher. Q: How did Pat make you a better broadcaster? JM: All the things I didn¿t know how to do or wouldn¿t be interested in, he would always take care of. That was an easy way of getting me off the hook. I¿ve never said that I¿m a television guy. I¿ve never passed myself off as a broadcaster. I¿m a football guy that does television. I¿m a football coach and a teacher, that¿s my background. Pat Summerall is a broadcaster. I never had to do that. I went through school for 21 years being in recess, and Pat was the school. There would be years where we¿d go to commercial and I¿ll still be talking. I thought we were still doing the game. Q: What about your future plans? JM:I haven¿t thought one iota of what I¿m gonna do. I¿m living right now, dealing with this, championship game and Super Bowl game, two biggest games in our lives. What I¿m going to do or what happens I won¿t think about until March or April. My contract isn¿t up. I have another year.

On the NFC championship game

Q: Could you look ahead to the strategy we'll see between the Eagles and Rams in Sunday's game? We did this game, the first week of the season. It was St. Louis at Philadelphia. We¿ve seen how they match up. Jim Johnson is the defensive coordinator of the Eagles and he is very good. He¿s a guy who brings a lot of blitz, 40-50% of the time. The Rams weren¿t able to handle it. Everyone tries to throw off Kurt Warner and his rhythm, throw it off by hitting receivers, throw it off by hitting the quarterback. When Jim Johnson is the defensive coordinator, they¿re going to go after him, knock him down and hit him, throw off the rhythm. It was a close game, there was a fumble at the end, there were five Eagles to jump on it and the Rams got it and the game went into overtime. Having Troy Vincent will be a big thing for the Eagles. He pulled a groin in the Bears game on Saturday and he¿s questionable. The last time he was questionable too, he didn¿t practice all week. But he played in the game and played very well so I would expect Troy Vincent will be there and the third corner Al Harris is very good. I expect them to harass Kurt Warner it will be a low-scoring game. When the Eagles have the ball it¿s all about Donovan McNabb. He¿s a close to a one-man gang as anything in the NFL since John Elway in Denver. As he goes, the Eagles offense goes. If you can control or contain him, then you can play him. If you let him run around and throw the ball he can be very effective. Q: Was the first meeting one of the best games you¿ve done all year? JM: It was a heck of a game. I don¿t know if it was the best. But it was one of the best. It was a tough, very physical game. You don¿t always think of the Rams as being a physical team but they can play physical. The Eagles are always physical. Q: Talk about (Rams defensive coordinator) Lovie Smith transitioning from high school to the pros. JM: I think that¿s where coaches really get their background. I have a lot of respect for high school, you have to do everything, teach, coach, motivate, counsel, I think you really learn where you coach. Lovie Smith is really a coach. I was talking to him last Friday and he was telling his safeties ¿You guys should be getting some interceptions cause Grant Winstrom, a defensive end, has twice as many as you guys put together.¿ He was talking to Kim Herring and Adam Archuleta and, lo and behold, Kim Herring gets a big interception in the game. Those are the types of things from teaching and motivating. He¿s done such a great job. They¿ve gone from a bad defense to a good defense. He¿s a very solid guy and he¿s a no- baloney guy. He¿s going to make a good head coach. He¿s so solid the guys believe in him. The way he says it¿he¿s calm, he¿s a lot like Tony Dungy. That¿s why Mike Martz hired him. He doesn¿t accept any loafing. He calls them loafs. Any time a player doesn¿t go full speed all the way until the whistle blows is called a loaf. And the most embarrassing thing that can happen to a defensive player is, in front of everyone else, being called a loafer. Q: What about (Steelers coach) Bill Cowher and his ability to rebuild? JM: Owners have to realize that if you get a team on top you¿re going to have to pay for it. You have to stay with the coach. Dan Rooney stayed with it with Bill Cowher, but it hasn¿t always been a smooth ride. Same thing with the 49ers and Steve Mariucci. Guys don¿t turn stupid but we turn on them sometimes. When they win, they¿re geniuses, when they lose, they¿re stupid. Neither one is probably right.

Who can beat the Rams?

Q: Which team has the best shot of knocking off the Rams? Anyone can if they can cause turnovers. Philadelphia can, Pittsburgh more than New England can. It¿s not that they give up the ball. Defensively, you have to make them turn it over. New Orleans was able to do that. Q:What's your reaction to the ¿tuck¿ rule (regarding quarterback fumbles)? JM:Throw out the tuck rule. Now, when anyone fumbles they go to these excuses if the knee is on the ground. Throw it all out. It makes it too hard to officiate. Q: Can Tony Dungy change the defense at Indianapolis? JM: Yes, because Lovie Smith was able to do it with the Rams. The Colts have great offensive players, but don¿t have the rest to with them. Two years ago the Rams and Colts were the same thing but the Rams fixed their defense. The Colts stayed the same and look what happened. You¿ll probably see eight changes. Q: What's been Aeneas Williams' impact on the Rams? JM: Bigger than just being a player on the field. A leader by example. He is great for the Rams in the practice field and the locker room. What he says, players listen to. In practice, every interception, he sprints 100 yards. Q: Do certain teams have a personality, especially a team like Pittsburgh? JM: All of the good teams do. If you can throw a team out there and not say what they are, then they're not very good. Every good team has a personality. You think, 'What's an Arizona Cardinal?' You have no idea what the hell they are. But if you say, 'What's a Pittsburgh Steeler? What's a Ram? What's a Chicago Bear? What's a New England Patriot? Any of these good teams¿ you know what they are. In winning, you have a strong personality. In losing, you have a weak personality, or you have no personality. Q: Is there a point in your relationship with Pat when you could say, 'This is going to be long-lasting? JM: No, because I was so inexperienced when I started out, I didn't know any better. I just thought, 'Geez, this is great, this is fun,' and enjoyed it. I think that we've worked for some great people. You don't last 21 years without cooperation from administration, and that's one of the amazing things about it. Over the years, both at CBS and at FOX, we've had so many different people. That's been the amazing thing. Just the way network sports television is. They change all the time¿ 'Get rid of this, get rid of that.' We've had people who never said, 'Let's get rid of them.' " Q: Will we ever see a NFL broadcast team stay together for 20-21 years again? JM: I would be very surprised. I think that Pat and I were very lucky to have been kept together for 21 years. And I don't know that it'll ever happen again. It's like in sports -- we're not going to see one coach with one team for a long time. We're not going to see one player play his whole career with one team anymore.
Tagged: Bears, Colts, Rams, Patriots, Eagles, 49ers, Steelers, Kim Herring, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Al Harris, Donovan McNabb, Troy Vincent, Jerome Bettis, Kordell Stewart

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