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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


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. "When I did my first game," he recalls, "I immediately realized this was what I wanted to do. You see, I can't live without football. It's been part of my life since I was a little kid. I want to be involved in football and announcing the rest of my life."

Madden comes up with his funnystories by "hanging out." That means eating with the players and just sitting around and talking. He also goes to the practice sessions, meets with both coaching staffs, and watches the coaches' films. (The latter are different than TV tapes, because they show all 22 players on every play.)

Once the game starts, Madden is asentertaining as the action on the field. He quickly discards his tie after the opening introduction and always stands because, he says, "I've never sat down at a football game in my life. It's unpatriotic." He needs room to gesture and he won't wear a coat, even on the coldest days, because he hates to be confined. And he says things like, "Wham, boom, pow. Look at all those guys falling backwards. This is great."

Besides gaining national acclaim asan announcer, Madden has become famous as the man who crashes through Lite beer posters. "I coached for 20 years; then I do a 30-second beer commercial and everybody knows me," he says.

Surprisingly, the flamboyant Maddenand the calm Enberg have one unusual facet in common--they are former college educators.

Indeed, long before Enberg becamethe NBC network's award-winning play-by-play announcer in pro football, college basketball, and thoroughbred racing, he was a professor and baseball coach at California State University-Northridge. The erudite Enberg holds master's and doctor's degrees.

Enberg's teaching experience camein handy when he began working as a summer replacement at Los Angeles radio and TV stations. "I just imagined I was talking to a classroom of 50 students instead of an audience of thousands," he says.

Many fans complain thatsportscasters talk too much; Enberg agrees. "Every one of us talks too much. The better the game, the less we should talk. However, when a team like Chicago is demolishing New England, 46-10, in the Super Bowl, you've got to try to liven up a one-sided game like that with lots of anecdotes and color," he says.

Enberg feels that announcinga pro football game is always a challenge. However, he labels baseball "the most difficult game to prepare for by far. You have so much time to reveal what you don't know. When the action slows, you must be prepared to call on the history of the game, the weather, and the strategy. That's why I so admire Vin Scully; he's the poet laureate of baseball."

Scully, whose achievements as abaseball broadcaster include a special membership in the Baseball Hall of Fame, has been the voice of the Dodgers since 1950. He also calls the play-by-play for NBC when it covers All-Star games, World Series, and championship play-offs, as well as pro-golf tournaments.

Ronald Reagan, a former radiosportscaster, is a devoted Scully supporter. In 1983, President Reagan said, "Scully is about as good as you can be. He's easy to listen to, keeps you informed, is smooth, honest, and knowledgeable."

Another announcer with asmooth, low-key delivery is Summerall, equally at ease working with such analysts as Madden in football, Tony Trabert in tennis, or Ken Venturi of golf.

Summerall says, "Pro golfis the most scenic sport, especially tournaments like the Masters at Augusta and the Doral at Miami's famous Blue Monster course. Golf also is the most difficult sport to broadcast because there isn't a lot of dramatic action."

Although Summerall isheralded by the broadcasting fraternity as an exceptional talent, he doesn't receive enough recognition, says Frank Gifford of the rival ABC network: "The analyst always gets the major attention. This is Summerall's 25th anniversary at CBS, but all they talk about is Madden."

A third major figure at CBS, BrentMusburger, has been hailed by his network as "The Man for All Seasons" because he's seemingly everywhere--at the NCAA basketball finals in a different city each year, the Masters in Augusta, the Belmont Stakes in New York, the National Football League play-offs and Super Bowl, college football's "Game of the Week"--and the list goes on.

However, the strain has sometimescaused this 47-year-old perfectionist to explode, as in his well-publicized fight with Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. Conversely, Musburger laughed when Shelley Long called him "Bert Fusburger" in a "Cheers" skit on a pregame show for the 1986 World Series.

Before striking it rich as TV's highest-paidsportscaster ($1.8 million annual salary), Musburger had worked as an umpire in the Class D Midwest League and then traveled the country as a sports columnist for the now-defunct Chicago American.

ABC's new sportscasting superstaris Brooklyn-born Al Michaels, who does the play-by-play for "Monday Night Football," major-league baseball, and the championship baseball play-offs. Michaels vaulted to national prominence in 1980 when he called all the games of the victorious U.S. hockey team at the Winter Olympics.

What's Michaels' reactionto having such "Monday Night Football" predecessors as Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, O.J. Simpson and Joe Namath?

Michaels says, "I don'twant to sound jaded, but 'Monday Night Football' has been no more pressure than the other things I've done in prime-time television: four World Series, four All-Star games, seven baseball play-offs, and four Olympics. And working with Frank [Gifford] has been great because he's a pro."

Incidentally, for any buddingsportscasters out there, Michaels' first job after graduating from Arizona State in 1966 was selecting the contestants for "The Dating Game."

It's obvious the network sportscastingscene is thoroughly dominated by men. How come, and is that likely to change?

Summerall says, "I don't see theday coming when a woman will work as a play-by-play announcer or an analyst in the major professional sports like football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. [But] of course, women already are working as analysts in tennis, golf, and the Olympic Games. And I see more women announcers getting into those sports, especially when women competitors are involved."

TV sportscasting is the new dreamof the Olympic gymnastics heroine Mary Lou Retton, who announced her retirement from the sport last October. She is majoring in broadcasting at the University of Texas. It's expected she'll be NBC's gymnastics analyst at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Whether they've been in the business5 or 35 years, today's million-dollar sportscasters still get as excited as the neophyte Retton when they step before the microphone.

Summerall says, "I get butterfliesevery week. It's still not routine for me, even after 25 years. There's still that great feeling of excitement when the director says: 'Well, here we go.'"
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Title Annotation:John Madden, Dick Enberg, Bob Costas, Brent Musburger
Author:Roessing, Walter
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1987
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