Talking Is Their Game

By Roessing, Walter | The Saturday Evening Post, April 1987 | Go to article overview

Talking Is Their Game


Roessing, Walter, The Saturday Evening Post


TALKING IS THEIR GAME

Hardly the picture of sartorialsplendor in untied tennis shoes, baggy pants, and uncombed hair, John Madden stepped outside his fancy apartment in New York City. A sympathetic passerby took one look at Madden's rumpled attire and handed him a dollar bill.

Dick Enberg once walked ontoDuke University's basketball court and tossed peanuts to the students from a 50-pound bag. Bob Costas always carries a Mickey Mantle baseball card in his wallet, "because all right-thinking Americans should carry a religious artifact on their person at all times," he says. Brent Musburger, angry because he thought his coworker Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder wasn't prepared, had a post-show fistfight with Snyder.

The life of a network televisionsportcaster is seldom dull.

But, to make their lives more palatable,Madden, Enberg, Costas, and Musburger have one thing in common with Pat Summerall, Frank Gifford, Al Michaels, and Vin Scully: they're all million-dollar sportscasters on network television.

"We're all paid very well," saysEnberg, the owner of a thoroughbred race horse and a three-acre spread in Rancho Santa Fe, near San Diego.

Enberg and his fellow announcershave jobs every sports fan dreams about. They cover the peak events of professional and amateur sports--Olympic Games, World Series, Super Bowls, Masters Tournaments, NBA championships, Kentucky Derbies, U.S. Open golf and tennis tournaments, Wimbledons, world boxing championships, and much, much more.

More specifically, Musburger,Summerall, and Madden--the elite members of CBS' pro football team--covered Super Bowl XXI on January 25 in Pasadena. But not all three of these million-dollar mouths shared the same booth. "Three announcers in the booth is too many. It's too confusing and you start fighting for air time," says Summerall, CBS' top play-by-play broadcaster for football, golf, and tennis and a former end and place-kicker for the New York Giants. "Besides, when you're working with Madden, he needs plenty of room to flap his

arms."

Madden has had the unusual experienceof participating in Super Bowls both as the winning coach and as a broadcaster. His Oakland team crushed Minnesota 32-14 in Super Bowl XI. Recalling that victory, Madden says, "The great thing about winning the Super Bowl was that it meant I had won every game in football there was to win--preseason, Pro Bowl, play-off, Super Bowl." He holds up the silver-and-black, diamond-studded Super Bowl ring he wears on his right hand.

That Super Bowl also had its embarrassingmoments for Madden. He was so nervous the day of the game he ordered the team bus to leave for the stadium earlier than scheduled, stranding several players at the hotel. Two players, thinking Madden would be furious at them for missing the bus, hid out in the locker room when they arrived at the stadium.

Preparing for the game as a broadcasteris not as hectic, the 51-year-old Madden explains: "My main thing is always preparation. I have to know every player and every possible play. If the starting quarterback is sidelined in the first quarter, you better know as much about that second-stringer."

Madden is perhaps pro football'smost popular analyst. He appeals to the masses because he knows football, has a wild sense of humor, talks like the man in the street, hangs out with the common people, and despite his star status, hasn't let celebrity change him.

Speaking candidly, Maddensays, "I see guys who try to act like they have it made. They wear dark glasses and pretend they're trying to hide, while all the time they hope they'll be recognized. That stuff just isn't for me.

"I enjoy talking to the fans. Ilisten to what they say and try to get on the air what they want to see and hear."

After retiring in the late '70sat the peak of his coaching career, Madden reluctantly agreed to work a few games for CBS. …

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