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HomeSportsBehind the Scenes with FOX's NFL crew: Honoring John Madden

Behind the Scenes with FOX’s NFL crew: Honoring John Madden

By Richie Zyontz
FOX NFL Lead Producer

Editor’s Note: Richie Zyontz has been an NFL producer for FOX since 1994 and the lead producer for the final 20 seasons. He has greater than 40 years of expertise masking the league and has produced six Super Bowls. Throughout the 2022 NFL season, he’ll present an inside look as FOX’s new No. 1 NFL group makes its journey towards Super Bowl LVII.

John Madden did not personal Thanksgiving — but it surely was rattling shut. 

The custom would possibly date again to the 1600s, however Madden embraced it together with his joyful love of meals, household and soccer. 

This was the primary Thanksgiving with out John, who died final December. The NFL very appropriately selected his favourite vacation to honor him, commemorating his affect on soccer throughout all three Thursday video games. Fans had been reminded of the particular relationship that they had with the best analyst to ever put on a headset. 

For me, it is just a little extra private. 

John Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. His affect as a Super Bowl-winning coach, broadcast analyst and video-game pioneer is unmatched. (Photo by Jay Laprete/Bloomberg through Getty Images.)

An important pal 

In 1982, I used to be in my second season touring the nation as a really younger broadcast affiliate with CBS Sports. 

The Thanksgiving sport that yr featured a second-year phenom named Lawrence Taylor, whose New York Giants matched up towards the Detroit Lions within the Pontiac Silverdome. 

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Thanksgiving Moment: Lawrence Taylor’s pick-six

Check out this “Thanksgiving Moment,” from 1982, when Lawrence Taylor returned an interception for a game-winning TD at Detroit.

While Pat Summerall and Madden had known as Super Bowl XVI the earlier January in that very stadium, this was their first full season collectively as CBS’ lead crew. 

Producer Bob Stenner and director Sandy Grossman rounded out what would turn into the Mount Rushmore of manufacturing groups. I actually walked amongst giants. 

Little did I do know that 39 years of shut friendship with Madden was in my future. Never might I think about taking walks with him in cities throughout America, introducing him to kosher delis and pizza on New York’s Upper West Side, taking part in poker in his condo on the Dakota (see “Lennon, John” for historic reference) and driving his Maddencruiser bus from one finish of the nation to the opposite, telling tales and laughing the entire time. 

Not to say that he launched me to my future spouse, June, and we acquired married in 1990 at his house in Danville, California, the place he served as my greatest man. 

It was an ideal friendship and one I take into consideration day by day. 

John Madden Thanksgiving Tribute

John Madden Thanksgiving Tribute

Thanksgiving was John Madden’s favourite vacation. This yr, the NFL honored the legendary coach and broadcaster.

Near the tip of John’s life, I requested him what he missed most about broadcasting. Without lacking a beat, his reply was Thanksgiving. 

He beloved Thanksgiving soccer. He loves the gamers, the coaches, the meals, the massive vacation meal together with his crew. 

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During Thursday’s telecast, as we paid tribute to John, I glanced at my cellphone greater than as soon as anticipating a textual content from him: 

“Enough about me, get back to covering the game.” 

A really big day 

I acquired a textual content throughout our broadcast from Mike Madden, John’s oldest son. He mentioned the day had been “amazing, humbling.” I used to be proud we had been capable of have a good time his dad with sort ideas and phrases in addition to some memorable video clips. 

Director Rich Russo and I donned All-Madden jerseys as our personal private tributes to a person we knew and beloved. Today, a brand new custom was born —honoring John Madden for the enjoyment he introduced us each Thanksgiving. 

Richie Zyontz carrying a classic All-Madden sweatshirt in 1991. (Photo courtesy of Richie Zyontz)

Pass the BBQ sauce 

Normally, we’d have celebrated Thanksgiving with a crew meal and occasion Tuesday evening. Unfortunately, our vehicles had fairly a haul from New York to Arlington, the place we broadcasted the Cowboys’ win over the Giants, and Tuesday turned an extended work day at AT&T Stadium. Wednesday did not work as a result of the halftime rehearsal with the Jonas Brothers stored the crew occupied till the early night. 

We known as an audible and moved our celebration to Friday evening in Kansas City, the place we go subsequent for a sport Sunday between the Rams and Chiefs. It may not be conventional vacation fare, however you’ll be able to’t beat the ribs, burnt ends and pulled pork at Jack Stack Barbecue.

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John Madden would have authorised — the person knew his method round a rack of ribs. 


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