By Richie Zyontz
FOX NFL Lead Producer
Editor’s Notice: 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 overlaying the league and has produced six Tremendous Bowls. All through the 2022 NFL season, he’ll present an inside look as FOX’s new No. 1 NFL staff makes its journey towards Tremendous Bowl LVII.
John Madden did not personal Thanksgiving — however it was rattling shut.
The custom would possibly date again to the 1600s, however Madden embraced it along with his joyful love of meals, household and soccer.
This was the primary Thanksgiving with out John, who died last December. The NFL very appropriately selected his favourite vacation to honor him, commemorating his influence on soccer throughout all three Thursday video games. Followers have 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 Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame in 2006. His influence as a Tremendous Bowl-winn ing coach, broadcast analyst and video-game pioneer is unmatched. (Picture by Jay Laprete/Bloomberg through Getty Pictures.)
An excellent buddy
In 1982, I used to be in my second season touring the nation as a really younger broadcast affiliate with CBS Sports activities.
Thanksgiving Second: Lawrence Taylor’s pick-six
Try this “Thanksgiving Second,” from 1982, when Lawrence Taylor returned an interception for a game-winning TD at Detroit.
Whereas Pat Summerall and Madden had referred to as Tremendous 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 develop 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. By no means might I think about taking walks with him in cities throughout America, introducing him to kosher delis and pizza on New York’s Higher West Aspect, enjoying poker in his residence 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.
To not point out that he launched me to my future spouse, June, and we received married in 1990 at his dwelling in Danville, California, the place he served as my greatest man.
It was an important friendship and one I take into consideration day-after-day.
John Madden Thanksgiving Tribute
Thanksgiving was John Madden’s favourite vacation. This yr, the NFL honored the legendary coach and broadcaster.
Close to the top of John’s life, I requested him what he missed most about broadcasting. With out lacking a beat, his reply was Thanksgiving.
He cherished Thanksgiving soccer. He loves the gamers, the coaches, the meals, the massive vacation meal along with his crew.
Throughout Thursday’s telecast, as we paid tribute to John, I glanced at my telephone greater than as soon as anticipating a textual content from him:
“Sufficient about me, get again to overlaying the sport.”
A really special occasion
I obtained a textual content throughout our broadcast from Mike Madden, John’s oldest son. He stated the day had been “superb, humbling.” I used to be proud we have been capable of have a good time his dad with sort ideas and phrases in addition to some memorable video clips.
Director Wealthy Russo and I donned All-Madden jerseys as our personal private tributes to a person we knew and cherished. At the moment, a brand new custom was born —honoring John Madden for the enjoyment he introduced us each Thanksgiving.
Richie Zyontz sporting a classic All-Madden sweatshirt in 1991. (Picture courtesy of Richie Zyontz)
Cross the BBQ sauce
Usually, we’d have celebrated Thanksgiving with a crew meal and celebration Tuesday night time. Sadly, our vehicles had fairly a haul from New York to Arlington, the place we broadcasted the Cowboys’ win over the Giants, and Tuesday grew to become an extended work day at AT&T Stadium. Wednesday did not work as a result of the halftime rehearsal with the Jonas Brothers saved the crew occupied till the early night.
We referred to as an audible and moved our celebration to Friday night time in Kansas Metropolis, the place we go subsequent for a recreation 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.
John Madden would have accredited — the person knew his approach round a rack of ribs.
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