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    Madden to "Monday Night"; Miller Out

    John Madden is taking the ball and running with it--all the way to Monday Night.

    Following the controversial departure of his longtime partner, play-by-play man Pat Summerall, the 13-time Emmy-winning Madden is calling it a game at the Fox network after seven years and heading over to ABC's Monday Night Football in a deal reportedly worth $20 million over four years.

    "This is where I want to finish. I want to be a part of Monday Night Football and be a part of Monday Night as long as I broadcast," Madden said in a press conference Thursday.

    Madden will team with veteran announcer Al Michaels in a two-man broadcast booth, replacing color analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, who'll be benched with one year left on his contract but is expected to remain with the network in an undetermined minor role.

    The substitution also means comedian Dennis Miller has bounced from the booth, which will undoubtedly please legions of MNF fans still wondering what the heck ABC was thinking by bringing the acid-tongued funnyguy (and football neophyte) on board two years ago. Unlike Fouts, Miller decided not to accept a reduced role and will exit the network with a year on his contract. There was no immediate comment from Miller on the move.

    Sideline reporter Melissa Stark remains on the MNF team, but Eric Dickerson was let go.

    The 65-year-old Madden, who spent 14 years at CBS before moving to Fox, had one more year in his contract. But with the retirement of Summerall, his partner of 21 years, and network executives offering him a three-year contract extension worth significantly less than the $7.5 million annual salary he had been getting, switching sides was easier than drawing his signature X's and O's.

    Fox released Madden from his contract and let him move to ABC.

    Madden said he had wanted to join the MNF team since its heyday in the '70s with its legendary lineup of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford. As recently as 1998, he was reportedly being considered for a revamped MNF booth, before ABC decided to go with Fouts and Miller.

    "This wasn't about money," said Madden. "This wasn't about Fox saying we're going to get rid of a salary. It was more like if this is what you want to do, then we're going to let you do it....and [when] ABC agreed that they would have me, it happened really quickly."

    Madden, who coached the Oakland Raiders to victory in the 1977 Super Bowl before turning to the broadcast booth, will net more than $5 million a year with his new pact--and that figure is likely to increase thanks to promotional opportunities stemming from the MNF job.

    But Madden says it will take some time to adjust to his new digs. "There is a trade off," he said. "You don't do that divisional playoff and you don't do that championship game and that Thanksgiving Day game, those types of things that have been part of my life for a long time that I just enjoy."

    Michaels thinks he'll be able to develop chemistry with Madden--something that was sorely lacking during the Miller tenure. "One of the things I'm going to do this year is try to bring up the type of subjects I'd love to hear John talk about and espouse on. Because I've been interested as a fan in what does John think about this and that," said Michaels.

    ABC hopes the Michaels-Madden combo will boost MNF's sagging ratings--which, despite the heavily hyped addition of Miller, hit a record low last season, averaging 17 million viewers for a 11.5 rating and19 share.

    Fox, which lost an estimated $397 million on its contract with the NFL, will likely tap Cris Collinsworth, its dependable Fox NFL Sunday host, and play-by-play man Joe Buck to replace Madden and Summerall as its number one broadcasting team.

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