Richie Zyontz is the man that deserves credit for getting the ball rolling on a documentary honoring the impact John Madden had on the game of football long after his retirement. Zynotz is the lead NFL producer for FOX Sports. He also happens to be one of Madden’s very best friends.
The two text daily. Madden introduced Zynotz to the woman he would go on to marry in a ceremony that happened at the former Raider coach’s home with the man himself standing by Zynotz’s side as his best man.
While Joel Santos and Tom Rinaldi are credited as co-producers and co-directors of All Madden, the documentary that will air on Christmas Day on FOX, it was Richie Zyontz that approached FOX Sports boss Eric Shanks with the idea.
“I had thought about this for a long time and it bothers me that people think history began last year or last week,” he told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch. “Flavors of the day come and go, but Madden is a giant who forever changed the way sports are presented on TV. Shanks loves and respects John as much as I do, so it took no convincing.”
One person that did take some convincing was Madden himself. The former coach was always willing to be a part of the project. Zynotz, Santos, and Rinaldi were not entirely sure they could get him to appear on camera and share his memories of his impact on the broadcasting world.
“We knew John would cooperate, but would he participate?” Rinaldi said. “It was a huge question for us. Would he sit for an interview, the first lengthy on-camera interview of any kind in well more than a decade, essentially since he left the stage? When you’re fixed in the public’s mind for so long looking and sounding a certain way, you’re almost not permitted to age and only because you’re fixed in this one image.”
“He hadn’t been on camera in eight or nine years, and while that mind remains a steel trap, he has hearing issues and his voice understandably isn’t as strong as the voice we all remember,” Zynotz added.
The crew started with an introductory visit just to get John Madden reminiscing and telling stories. They wanted him to be comfortable with his ability to speak on some of the topics that they wanted to hear him address.
After that, filming sessions began. Rinaldi notes that some tweaking had to be done, but in the end, he thinks the audience will be very satisfied with the version of John Madden they see and hear.
“One of the challenges of the interview is John’s voice,” Rinaldi continued. “At times at the end of a longer answer, it wouldn’t be as strong as it was at the start of the answer. So he would take a drink or have lozenges and things like that. We’ve since gone up and had a few short audio sessions with John to have him amplify a particular answer. But overall, I think everyone who has seen and heard John, they’d say that’s John Madden.”
A special treat for Madden himself will be hearing from participants just how much he has impacted the NFL. The crew filmed 38 interviews for the documentary. No one they asked turned them down and they had every one of them deliver a personal message to the former coach and broadcasting icon.
Those messages have been cut together into a 50-minute montage that will be delivered to John Madden on Christmas Day so that he can watch them with his family.
FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches
FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.
The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.
USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.
While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.
Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.
Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz Announcing World Cup, NFL Thanksgiving Games For 18 Straight Hours Thursday
With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.
With the World Cup happening at an unprecedented time, there were bound to be scheduling conflicts. The conflicts for Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz, however, might be the real unprecedented nature of the event being played in November.
Gurwitz works on Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup while calling matches as the secondary play-by-play announcer. Beginning at 11:00 AM in Doha, Gurwitz will work the network’s coverage of the event.
But as the soccer day turns to tonight, Gurwitz will call Telemundo’s broadcast of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings game from Qatar. With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.
He will also do the feat again on Sunday, as he’ll broadcast World Cup matches for the network during the day and then announce the Packers and Eagles game for Sunday Night Football.
Kevin Burkhardt: ‘Honor To Be In People’s Homes’ During Thanksgiving Broadcast
“There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool.”
On Thanksgiving, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will call their first Thanksgiving Day game for FOX when the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET). It’s been a memorable year for Burkhardt and Olsen in their first year as the A broadcast team for FOX that will end in the duo calling the Super Bowl in February.
Burkhardt was a guest on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast this week and talked about the honor of getting the chance to be on the call for a Thanksgiving Day game.
“The whole job is big and we are doing big games every week. There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool. One of them was Dallas-Green Bay, which turned out to be epic a couple of weeks ago.
“The playoffs and the Super Bowl will be great, but Thanksgiving Day. Growing up in a football family, it was kind of eating around both games. Catch the early game, halftime, go throw the football in the street, eat the meal between games, then the Cowboys game comes on, you watch that. Maybe halftime you watch or maybe you throw the football again. Watch the rest of the game, you have dessert after the game. That was the day.
“It is an honor because you are in a lot of people’s homes every week. I feel like you really are in people’s homes…. You are kind of like hugging everybody. I think it’s beyond awesome, I really do.”
Burkhardt mentioned to Schrager that he and Olsen knew they had big shoes to fill after taking over for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (both now at ESPN) and it felt like walking in to a new job, but the A crew at FOX helped them and he liked that he and Olsen got to do it together.
“It’s been awesome. It really has. When you go into a situation like this, Joe and Troy were there for 2 decades, that’s a long time. People have long-standing relationships. Even though I’ve been at FOX for 9 years and Greg was there last year, we are the new guys essentially.
“You walk in, you don’t know how they are going to react to you, what they are going to think of you, if they think you are any good and all that stuff. From Day 1, it was like welcome to the family, we love you. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s been awesome. It felt like we’ve just fit right in. I think there’s been some cool symmetry, the fact that Greg and I got to do it together because we have such a bond.
“The fact that we got to jump in together I think has kind of been fun and helped us both because he knows me really well and I know him really well. Then, it was just getting everyone else to know us and vice versa.”
The one thing that Burkhardt did have to adjust to was a different style of show and that each production team has different viewpoint and creativity.
“The crew I’ve been on my whole life with Pete Macheska and Artie Kempner, they do a different show than Z (Richie Zyontz) and Russo (Rich Russo) do it. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone has different viewpoints and creativity. I think it was just getting used to each other in terms of that, but it’s felt like I’ve worked with them for 25 years. It’s felt seamless. It’s felt fun.”
Even though Burkhardt is now the lead NFL play-by-play voice for FOX, that doesn’t mean he is going to change how he does a game.
“I’m not going to change my style or who I am. I’m not saying I’m not open to critiques and wanting to get better and to get coached. The basis of what I do and how I do it, I’m not going to change that now because I’m on the A crew. They liked me enough to put me here, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe tweaks here and there, but if I radically changed now, I’d be a moron.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.