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Fred Gaudelli: John Madden Still Guides NBC Broadcasts

“Madden seemed to have the perfect personality for the job.  He had a fantastic work ethic matched with an encouraging spirit that Gaudelli greatly appreciated.”

Will Dundon

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The recent death of John Madden impacted many in the sports industry.  Madden, who passed away last Tuesday, was a beloved coach and commentator that influenced multiple generations of players, fans, and people in general.

Fred Gaudelli, Executive Producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, grew close to John over the years and shared some of his memories of him with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.

“John understood how television worked, why it worked, why it didn’t work, and when it didn’t work,” Gaudelli said. “He got TV on a level like a Dick Ebersol level. Al (Michaels) has the same quality. They just know what the audience needs and they know when they need it. Not that they’re perfect. I mean, no one’s perfect. But in those big moments, they’re not somewhere else when there’s something in front of the audience. If I made a decision differently in the game that took us away from something, which invariably I did, he would hit that talk-back button and say, ‘Hey, can we get back to the game?’ I mean, even to this day, if I feel like I’ve been on a topic too long that’s away from the game, I feel his voice coming through that talk-back.”

As Gaudelli explains, Madden seemed to always know what the audience needed.  Not only did he know how to give the audience a great product, but he also knew how to relate to them.  This probably had a great deal to do with his love for people and good conversation.

“If you wanted to have a conversation with him and he had the time, he would have the conversation,” Gaudelli continued. “He traveled through the 48 continental states of America, and he didn’t drive through them. He stopped. He chatted people up. I remember one time we were driving from Houston to Canton. I don’t remember if we were driving through Alabama or Georgia, but somebody was selling boiled peanuts on the side of the road. We stopped the bus. We got off. I’d never had boiled peanuts before, and they were awesome. But he’s chatting the guy up about being a peanut farmer, the whole nine yards. He just had that kind of curiosity. I think that’s what made the bus a great vehicle for him, literally and figuratively, because he got to experience people.”

Madden seemed to have the perfect personality for the job.  He had a fantastic work ethic matched with an encouraging spirit that Gaudelli greatly appreciated.

“Blessed is a word that comes to mind because John opened my eyes to a lot of things that they may not have been open to from a television standpoint as well as a life standpoint if we had not worked together,” Gaudelli said. “I just felt inspired by his preparation and that he was expecting me to be better than I thought I might be. That’s the professional end. On the personal end of it, it’s hard to have a better friend than John Madden. He was always there for you — always had great advice, didn’t push it on you unless you were asking. He was also one the most fun guys you could ever hang out with. My career and life are multiple times better for having him in my life, and I’m really going to miss him.”

Sports TV News

Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media have respect for former NFL punter Pat McAfee for what he has accomplished in his media endeavors, and you can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I wanna see: is the NFL gonna bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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Sports TV News

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs

“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

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Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.

Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.

In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.

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