FOX Sports Exclusive
John Madden leaves FOX Sports
NEW YORKJohn Madden is joining "Monday Night Football."
The gregarious announcer agreed to a four-year deal with ABC and will team with veteran play-by-play man Al Michaels to form a two-man booth. The move signals the departure of comedian Dennis Miller after two seasons and declining ratings.
"There is only one John Madden and he is now part of ABC Sports," ABC Sports president Howard Katz said Thursday.
Madden had one year at $7.5 million remaining on his contract with Fox Sports, but that network agreed late Wednesday to free him from that deal.
He and ABC then hammered out a contract worth about $5 million per season, an industry source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Madden could wind up making much more from the marketing opportunities that will arise thanks to his weekly prime-time appearances on ABC. He'll also work for ESPN, which like ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.
Fox offered Madden a three-year, $15 million extension, another industry source said, also on condition of anonymity.
"This is something that came very quickly. I'm numb, but even through the numbness I realize how lucky I am, going from playing to coaching to broadcasting," Madden said Thursday. "Every broadcaster would love an opportunity to be part of 'Monday Night Football."'
ABC will air the 2003 Super Bowl, Madden's ninth as a broadcaster. His ABC debut will be at the Hall of Fame preseason game between the Giants and Texans on Aug. 5.
Madden's arrival means the departures of Miller and color analyst Dan Fouts from "Monday Night Football." Sideline reporter Eric Dickerson also will leave the show after two years, while Melissa Stark remains.
Mirroring a general trend in television, the ratings for "Monday Night Football" have declined each of the past seven years, including a 9 percent drop this season to a new low average rating of 11.5 (each rating point represents a little more than 1.05 million TV homes). Fox's NFL games averaged a 10.2, down 4 percent from last season, while CBS was steady at 9.5.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on John - he's been with us all of 20 minutes now - but, yeah, I expect the ratings to go up," Katz said.
Madden, who coached the Oakland Raiders to the 1977 Super Bowl championship, had been at Fox since 1994. Before that, he and longtime play-by-play partner Pat Summerall were at CBS, where they were paired in 1981. Summerall said a week before this year's Super Bowl that he and Madden would part ways after calling the game for Fox on Feb. 3.
"This is where I want to finish," Madden said. "I want to be a part of 'Monday Night Football' as long as I broadcast."
The partnership between Madden and Summerall evolved into the signature sound for pro football on TV. Summerall's reserved tone contrasted well with Madden's free-flowing opinions and jokes.
They announced eight Super Bowls together. Their first was the 1982 NFL championship, which remains the highest-rated sports telecast ever.
Madden said Summerall's departure from Fox - the network didn't renew his contract - played a role in his own move.
"I was going to be working with a new partner, anyway, and to have the opportunity to work with Al Michaels - you just can't beat that," Madden said.
Fox is expected to make lead baseball announcer Joe Buck its new top play-by-play NFL broadcaster. He could be paired with former Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, who has been on Fox's NFL pregame show.