Ed Driscoll

Madden To Join NBC's New Sunday Night NFL Package

There’s big changes afoot in terms of network NFL coverage starting next year: ABC’s Monday Night Football will be going to cable’s ESPN; NBC returns to broadcasting the NFL with a Sunday night football package, which of course, used to be the exclusive domain of ESPN (and TNT prior to that). It sounds like ESPN may be using their existing Sunday night crew for Monday Night Football–because John Madden is jumping ship to NBC, thanks to what is presumably, a lucrative new contract:

NEW YORK (AP) — John Madden will join NBC as a game analyst when the network begins televising its newly acquired Sunday night football package in 2006.

The network scheduled an afternoon teleconference with Madden to make the announcement.

“John Madden is the best analyst in the history of the National Football League and, in my opinion, the best analyst of any kind in sports television history,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics. “John is much more than a football legend, he’s an American icon.”

Madden has spent the past three seasons teamed with Al Michaels on ABC’s now-defunct “Monday Night Football.”

“I have been doing this a long time and when I went to ABC to do ‘Monday Night Football,’ I thought I would finish my career there,” Madden said. “But when the NFL did this new television deal, I looked at ‘NBC’s Sunday Night Football’ package, and I thought this really fits me well.”

Before joining ABC, Madden teamed with Pat Summerall to call Fox’s lead game from 1994-2001. They were the top NFL announcing team on CBS for 13 seasons before that.

Known for his folksy style and his love of football’s grit and grime, Madden has won 14 Sports Emmys.

The former Oakland Raiders coach — he led them to a win over Minnesota in the 1977 Super Bowl — has become a pop-culture phenomenon thanks in large part to the popularity of his video game “Madden NFL Football.” Since its initial release in 1989, the game has sold more than 43 million copies and become the No. 1 selling sports video game of all time.

NBC is reportedly paying $600 million for a six-year contract that will allow the network to broadcast the NFL’s Sunday night game starting with the 2006 season. The Sunday night game was previously shown on ESPN, which will now televise the Monday night game.

NBC also gets two first-round playoff games and the Super Bowl in 2009 and 2012 as part of the deal.

Wonder what happens to Al Michaels?