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Madden leaving ABC for NBC's Sunday Night Football

NEW YORK -- John Madden was the first announcer Dick Ebersol
thought of when NBC acquired the rights to the NFL's Sunday night
package.

In mid-May, Ebersol went to California to talk with the popular
analyst and try to convince him to join NBC when the network begins
broadcasting the NFL again in 2006. The work paid off.

On Wednesday, NBC announced it had signed Madden to a six-year
deal to be the network's lead analyst for their NFL coverage.

"We're just positively giddy to have John Madden join NBC's
Sunday night football," said Ebersol, the chairman of NBC
Universal Sports & Olympics.

Madden has spent the past three seasons teamed with Al Michaels
on ABC's "Monday Night Football," a spot he will remain in for
one more season.

"The whole thing (is) an opportunity to go somewhere where
we're starting something new, something different," Madden said of
moving to NBC. "... I just think that, doggone it, this is pretty
good."

Ebersol said that NBC is waiting until after the NBA Finals are
over to talk with Al Michaels about possibly teaming with Madden
again.

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.

"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," Ebersol said. "John is much more than
a football legend, he's an American icon."

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.

"Being on Sunday night, coming after all the games have been
played, really gives you a unique pulpit to look at the day,"
Ebersol said.

NBC will also be the first network to enjoy a unique scheduling
twist. Beginning in 2006, the league will be able to shift
afternoon games in the final seven weeks of the season to prime
time to make sure that the best games are being shown on national
TV.

The Sunday night game was previously shown on ESPN, which will
now televise the Monday night game. Madden said he also talked with
ESPN about the possibility of working with the network on 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.

Ebersol said Madden will concentrate on football, despite NBC's
coverage plans for the next several Olympics, including 2008 in
Beijing.

"At this point, unless I can find a boat that's abnormally
large, he won't be in Beijing," said Ebersol, referring to
Madden's well-known aversion to flying.