WWMD… What Would Madden Do? Maybe that’s a question that comes to mind for football fans when it comes to the present slate of NFL broadcasters and current affairs in the league. This week Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated had an interview with Madden that touched on numerous subjects.
Perhaps the most interesting insight was that NBC approached Madden with jumping on the telecast for the 2012 Thanksgiving night game for one final comeback game. The network made a strong push for the legendary voice to come out of retirement, but Madden was not interested.
After NBC gained the rights to broadcast the Thanksgiving primetime game starting with the 2012 NFL season, Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli, director Drew Esocoff and broadcasters Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth invited Madden to dinner at an Italian restaurant in the North Beach section of San Francisco. They carried with them a secret plan: Convince the former broadcaster to come out of retirement to call one final NFL game. It was a tasty idea – the man who made the turducken famous calling one last game on Thanksgiving night – and they even pitched Madden on doing a West Coast regular season game near Madden’s northern California home. But Madden would have none of it. “We were shot down in five seconds,” Gaudelli said.
Seeing Madden back on an NFL telecast, even in a limited capacity, would have been awesome. Especially considering Madden’s connection and history to the Thanksgiving holiday that would have been a very special broadcast moment.
Alas, it was not meant to be. Madden seems very content in retirement, focusing on spending time with his grandchildren and leading a couple of NFL committees. He also watches football on Sundays in what sounds like the greatest home-viewing experience on planet earth.
Madden also had some interesting comments on the current crop of NFL announcers, saying there wasn’t really one he’d be interested in working with.
Is there a broadcaster working today Madden wishes he could have worked with during his career? The answer is no. “I have a lot of respect for Pat Summerall and Al Michaels and I don’t think there are any of those right now,” Madden said. “But I respect the game and what broadcasters do. It’s tougher than when I did it with all the reviews and up-tempo play and less time for replays. It’s a different thing. I would never be one to critique the announcers when I watched games. I try to watch the play and listen to the broadcasters and what they are pointing out. I was never one to say this one was good or bad.”
Of course, there is a step that separates the likes of Al Michaels and Pat Summerall from the rest of the world. It’d be interesting to see how Madden would relate to today’s NFL and today’s football fan. Alas, his legacy lives on as one of the most unique, most popular announcers of this or any era.