Madden Does TV Right In ‘Turduckingham Palace’

After John Madden retired from calling games for Monday Night Football, it was generally assumed that he’d keep busy in the sports, because really, what the hell else is he going to do? Cooking shows?* And sure enough, he’s already made inroads with the commissioner’s office, but game days would still have to become a production and institution befitting an icon of the “new” NFL like Madden.

John Madden
(WANT. Well, except for Siragusa the Enormosaurus. That, DO NOT WANT.)

Sure enough, as you can see in the picture above, Madden is taking full advantage of DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket with a 9-screen masterpiece, all built around a 16′ x 9′ main screen and eight more 63-inch TVs. If you’re wondering how that compares to your home theater, Madden’s main television would qualify as a 221-incher. And the good news is that while Madden still keeps pretty exclusive company, he’s not keeping the setup all to himself.


“I hate the words ‘man cave,’ ” he said. “I don’t know what I want to call this place, but I know what I don’t want to call it: man cave.”

The most reinvented man in sports — from Super Bowl coach, to ubiquitous broadcaster, to video-game maven — is trying something new this season: retirement.

Or something like that. Actually, aside from his casual khakis, untucked Oxford shirt and San Francisco Golf Club cap, Madden is in game mode. He’s every bit the master coordinator as he welcomes us out of our dream taxi — the luxurious Madden Cruiser bus — and onto the dimly lit sound stage at his Goal Line Productions, about five minutes from his Pleasanton home. In his hand is a “play chart” of sorts, a map of which game will be shown on which TV. DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket has helped complete his vision.

“I’ve had a season all my life. I wasn’t going to go away and not watch football,” Madden said. “I still love football. We started talking about this” concept of a viewing complex.

On one side of the room is a buffet table, complete with an omelet chef. On the other side, a technician working a control board, making sure the games are on the right screens — a big play might warrant a game being switched off a 63-incher and onto the nine-by-16-foot screen — and to ensure no one is ever watching a commercial.

“He gets fired if he ever puts a commercial up there,” says the sports world’s No. 1 pitchman, only half-jokingly. “Never watch a commercial. Never do it.”

As we mentioned before, Madden shares the whole thing with select company. Often it’s just family and friends (Note to self: change last name to Madden). This week, though, Madden brought in six fathers of NFL quarterbacks - the good quarterbacks, mind you, not like Kyle Boller’s dad (no offense, Mr. Boller) - to watch their sons play the game. That would probably be awesome, assuming there wasn’t a situation where two fathers had to watch their sons play against each other. “There’s no fighting in here! This is John Madden’s War Room!”

Madden could probably monetize the setup pretty easily, and we imagine his accountant has instructed him to do so at once. But what he could really use it for, since he’s already loaded to the gills with turducken money from EA Sports and MNF, is charity.

Think about what kind of cheddar he could raise for whatever fund he prefers. Breast cancer’s the current trend, and good on the NFL for that, but perhaps Madden’s got a thing for homeless people or childhood diseases. You think there isn’t 17 (20 if you count the playoffs) very rich football fans who wouldn’t jump at the chance to give $15,000 to a good cause for the opportunity to watch an afternoon of NFL football next to John Madden? On that huge setup? It’d be a bonanza.

*Actually, that would be AMAZING television. Get in contact with agents at once.