MNF: Miller out, Madden in?
February 28, 2002 9:35 AM   Subscribe

MNF: Miller out, Madden in? After two years of sinking ratings, is ABC and Monday Night Football ready to concede that Dennis Miller was not really good pick for a football commentator? Fox has released John Madden from his contract, making an Al Michaels-Madden booth a likelihood next fall.
posted by mattpusateri (40 comments total)
Leave us not forget that Dan Fouts will be gone too. Say what you want about Miller (I personally like his comedy), but Fouts was a pretty good color guy. Wonder if he'll be going back to college football now?
posted by JaxJaggywires at 9:38 AM on February 28, 2002

Oh great, now 10 million people can hear Madden get names wrong and slur his speech and go off in tangents about turducken. History wise the guy's the greatest, but he hasn't been fit to call peewee league games for 5 years.
posted by owillis at 9:41 AM on February 28, 2002

Shame to see Fouts going. Miller was never a good fit with the program. Too many obscure references for a show where brain power is not exactly the highest qualification.
posted by Lanternjmk at 9:41 AM on February 28, 2002

Actually the word on the street is that Miller could have stayed in a more limited role, but he chose to leave, seeing that it was going nowhere. Fouts was straight-up fired.
posted by cell divide at 9:49 AM on February 28, 2002

i liked miller, and i don't really accept the notion that everyone hated him. there is an up-to-date article at espn, announcing the 4-year deal that has just been signed.
posted by moz at 9:49 AM on February 28, 2002

The Monday Night football stage just wasn't the place where Miller's talents could really be showcased. Instead of being genuinely funny and edgy, he was basically limited to making obscure references.

Fouts was good, and Madden hasn't had it for a while now.

Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman has an excellent annual piece rating all of the NFL's broadcast teams.
posted by nath at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2002

Meet the new horrible boss, slightly different from the old horrible boss. Dan "unbuttered toast" Fouts aside, they are missing out on some potentially horrific Miller/Madden exchanges.

Miller: Say, John-John--you're like the pilot of our airwaves, baby, you know that, but let's not have any midnight flights to Pawtucket, all right?--didja catch that bootleg? I was waiting for Elliot Ness to pop out and sieze the football as federal evidence. Untouchable! That's Jerome Bettis for you.

posted by Skot at 10:01 AM on February 28, 2002

Skot, that was spot-on, except you needed a "BOOM" or two from Madden.
posted by msacheson at 10:04 AM on February 28, 2002

i was so happy to hear that FOX let madden go. the guy is a legend but he's waaay past his prime. not as bad as pat somerrall but he was getting close. maybe ABC should get a clue and realize FOX let madden go for a reason. this just proves how clueless ABC is that they have hired him. i liked the idea of having miller on MNF but his references were so incredibly obscure that i can't imagine more than 10% of the MNF audience got what he meant.
posted by suprfli at 10:09 AM on February 28, 2002

Madden really needs Princess Leia in a metal bikini reclining in front of him. But I like Madden. I also liked Miller.

I love everyone! Except all the CBS guys who suck eggs.

And Howie Long. He's terrible too. Don't get me started on the whole wearing-glasses-to-make-it-seem-like-you're-even-mildly-intelligent thing. He and Teri Hatcher should be banned from television forever. They're a virus.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:12 AM on February 28, 2002

For me the problem with Miller isn't his obscure references, it's the unnatural style that he delivers mini-monlogues in during the game as if he's reading off a piece of paper.
posted by owillis at 10:13 AM on February 28, 2002

Troy Aikman was really good as a color analyst on Fox, i thought.
posted by moz at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2002

btw, hearing miller reading fed lines like "did you know that last year anderson kicked 14 consecutive field goals but stubbed his toe and missed the 15th field goal?" for some reason when he ready stats it just didn't sound right.
posted by suprfli at 10:31 AM on February 28, 2002

I still liked the Boomer Esiason/Al Michaels pairing in 99 and so did Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman evidently.

Howabout this, Al, Boomer, and the guy who does the Madden impressions from MadTV.
posted by euphorb at 10:34 AM on February 28, 2002

Boomers gonna be joining Deion Sanders at the CBS pre-game show
posted by Mick at 10:48 AM on February 28, 2002

I'm was hoping they'd replace Miller with Rush Limbaugh, especially now that he's gone deaf.

That would be funny in ways even the sick mind of Dennis Miller couldn't contemplate.
posted by BentPenguin at 10:49 AM on February 28, 2002

I much, much, much prefer Miller's MNF work to his post-attacks DENNIS MILLER LIVE. Am I the only one who thought he was about to break out in tears while berating Gloria Allred? In re: MNF's ratings, it seems to me that the NFL's relative parity means that last year's top teams -- i.e. the teams that play this year on MNF -- will not necessarily be that good by the time their MNF games come along. That, and too many weak teams getting MNF games. Did anyone really need to see Green Bay beat Washington 37-0?
posted by aaronetc at 11:10 AM on February 28, 2002

Flame me, but I would've liked to have seen Rush Limbaugh do the job Dennis Miller did (or allegedly did, if you prefer). You have to listen to "Excellence in Broadcasting" pretty carefully during the season to catch RL when he's waxing lyrical (OK, bombastic) about the NFL, but the man knows what he's talking about, and his love for the game is genuine.

That being said, here's my preferred next contestant for "Try Your Luck -- Win a Career in the Broadcast Booth on MNF" -- Melissa Stark, who's paid her dues, is smart as hell, and knows and likes the game. Plus, why not have a female sportscaster for a change?
posted by alumshubby at 11:22 AM on February 28, 2002

Miller Madden Michaels would have been quite a triple-threat. It always seemed to me that Michaels liked Miller a lot, but Fouts wouldn't let things evolve to the higher level that it could have gotten to- continually reminding all of us that this was a professional football game, damnnit.

Miller brought a life and an attitude to that telecast that will be sorely missed by sports freaks like me who enjoyed his fresh approach.

MNF is not solely watched by Joe Sixpack, it's watched by millions and millions - many of whom are pounding beers in a sportsbar and can't even hear the commotion.

But for those of us who enjoy the game at home, ABC has missed a great opportunity. However, I'm actually surprised that Miller lasted so long, most network humps would have had him out after the first ex-jock said, "huh?"
posted by tsarfan at 11:25 AM on February 28, 2002

I also must say I think Rush would've made a good replacement. He has an obvious love for the game, knows his stuff, and is a born broadcaster.

And incidentally, no longer deaf. Cochlear implant.
posted by ebarker at 11:28 AM on February 28, 2002

Well, after reading the above comments, I think the best 3-man team would have been:
Michaels, Miller, Limbaugh

You could cut the tension in the booth with a kicking tee. I'd be watching the whole time, waiting for that special moment when Miller makes one-too-many comments about Limbaugh, Rush loses his composure and grabs poor Michaels by the ankles to beat Dennis about the noggin.
posted by grum@work at 11:40 AM on February 28, 2002

Miller's style was abrupt, unexpected and frequently out of left field. His comments were often unrelated to the action in front of him. Yes, he was a poor match for Monday Night Football. But that was what made it worth watching. To see Miller toss around words like "intelligentsia" and "austere" on a sportscast was nutty to say the least. I doubt that even 95% of the audience got the refereces and, for those who did, their piss-poor association with the play commentated upon (I mean, really, Enrico Fermi in relation to a Steelers drive?) were a laff riot.
posted by ed at 11:45 AM on February 28, 2002

i have madden talks about "cankles" more, i think that's his fetish now
posted by ejoey at 11:53 AM on February 28, 2002

hope even
posted by ejoey at 11:54 AM on February 28, 2002

Miller brought a life and an attitude to that telecast that will be sorely missed by sports freaks like me who enjoyed his fresh approach.

Here's one sports freak thanking God Miller is gone.

I liked him on saturday night live, I like his HBO show, I hated him on MNF. His commentary always seemed awkward and forced.

This whole idea that the fans who hated Miller were 'cavemen with beers' who simply didn't 'get' his quips isn't true.

I got him, and now I'm glad he's gone. His talents are better used elsewhere.
posted by justgary at 11:56 AM on February 28, 2002

Hmm. So long as we're theorizing dream-teams, I'm going to go with Dennis Miller, Edward Gibbon, Mr. T and Garrison Keillor as the ultimate Monday Night Football commentary gang. Miller could toss out obscure references and pithy analogies, while Garrison Keillor would describe the football plays in such a way as to make everybody hungry for warm apple pie. Meanwhile, Mr. T gets confused and angry at both of them, threatening bodily injury and making spectacular boasts about what he would do if he were playing. During all of this, Edward Gibbon, wondering why he is alive after having been dead for over two hundred years, would politely ask what was going on and expertly field any questions they might have about the last days of Rome.

And for what it's worth, I think that Miller was fun to listen to on the show, but that what he was obviously not allowed to say would have been more interesting than what he was allowed to say. Consequently, I am happy that he decided to leave, as he was really going nowhere.
posted by Hildago at 11:57 AM on February 28, 2002

I don't think it's fair to blame Miller for the declining ratings -- the show had been backsliding for five years before he was ever brought on board. ABC knew putting Miller in was experiment, and they should be commended for giving it a shot. God knows we need more risk-taking from network executives, not less.

Now, doesn't this really belong on SportsFilter?
posted by jjg at 11:59 AM on February 28, 2002

I'd like to see Alton Brown doing color commentary.
posted by machaus at 12:02 PM on February 28, 2002

I like Dennis Miller a lot, but his style was a bad fit for Monday Night Football. He's at his best in his rants, which are long, stream-of-consciousness, and riddled with obscenities. That doesn't fit a format that requires short, topical commentary. He did a pretty good job given the constraints, but it was set up to fail from the get-go.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:06 PM on February 28, 2002

Mascheson, I'm still giggling about that.
My favorite Madden quote, from about two seasons ago, "BOTH OF THESE DEFENSES HAVE BEEN ON THE FIELD A LOT TODAY."

Hunh?! Have another bloody mary, John....
posted by mimi at 12:55 PM on February 28, 2002

I meant, Skot, that was hysterical. Sorry, I should stop with those bloodys...
posted by mimi at 1:05 PM on February 28, 2002

Madden is so far gone, this ought to make for hilarious drunk watching. And some good college drinking games (Sunday afternoon probably wasn't very good for that).
posted by dig_duggler at 1:27 PM on February 28, 2002

Now, doesn't this really belong on SportsFilter?
SpoFi isn't MeFi. Links can live on both. It's like two bars on the same street, one has a different ambiance but you can get drunk at both.
posted by owillis at 1:29 PM on February 28, 2002

I actually really like the ESPN Sunday Night crew. They seem to have a lot of fun just doing the game, rather than trying to "put on a show"... I also think Aikman was pretty damn good in his first year. That said, I still like Madden. Yeah, some of his schtick has gotten old, but he's still entertaining and fun to listen to.

Rush? Hell f'ing no. Besides, he'd have a tough hard time finding ways to blame Clinton for failed third-down conversions and shanked punts.

Miller is OK as a comedian, but as an analyst/football guy, he always just struck me as awkward and unnatural. He seemed to constantly try to find spots to throw in pre-packaged quips and zingers, rather than just do the game...
posted by mattpusateri at 1:33 PM on February 28, 2002

This is good news to me. I hate football but with Dennis Miller on the show, I've been tempted to tune in anyway, cuz I like the guy. He's funny. Fortunately I've mostly avoided the temptation, because I really don't like football. That's just me. Hopefully in the future Miller will be involved in something I do like.

As for Madden? He typifies some of the reasons why I don't like football. "BOOM! WHAT A PASS! WHAT A CATCH! Didja SEE IT?" Someone should tell him you don't have to shout into a microphone. All the time. It's like he's mostly deaf and can't hear himself. Like he thinks he's talking over the din at a party, but there's nothing to talk over. Shut up, Madden.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:42 PM on February 28, 2002

I liked Dan Fouts. I thought he was great. I was surprised to learn they let him go. I liked Dennis Miller but I understand why they got rid of him. But Fouts? Articulate, insightful and concise. That combination is a rarity among NFL broadcasters.

Isn't it possible that ratings are down because MNF games sucked this last season espescially when compared to the season before?
posted by keithl at 1:45 PM on February 28, 2002

At least they aren't going to us Brett Musberger...

As far as MNF ratings, I doubt they're ever going to come close to huge ratings that they once had. With much more competition from cable channels, UPN, WB, pay-per-view, Internet, consumers just have many more viewing options. MNF will never be as big as it was once...
posted by mattpusateri at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2002

Howard Stern, maybe, too?
posted by theoldyankee at 3:50 PM on February 28, 2002

Hell, just give Charles Barkley the job. Who cares if he would know a thing about the game. I would watch more than ever.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 7:31 PM on February 28, 2002

Considering, along with several other bad calls thruout the season, Madden was convinced, convinced the Patriots were making a mistake by not kneeling and going into OT at the end of the Super Bowl, I have to admit I'm not entirely thrilled with him going to the prime time slot.

On the other hand, it could be that working with the senile Pat Summerall sucked his intelligence for the past three seasons, and being forced to keep up with Al Michaels may reignite whatever football smarts he once had.

Oh, and for the sake of parity, I think that Carolina and Detroit should have Monday night games scheduled, and New England should not. Considering the last three Super Bowl winners never played a Monday night game during their championship season, I think it'll help make the Pats' title defense easier.
posted by zedzebedia at 4:30 AM on March 1, 2002

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