Madden comes clean on Sunday's game


January 10, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

Here's mud in your eye, John Madden. But that's the way you like it, right?

If the CBS analyst had his way, there would be no place like domes. Madden, whose commentary sometimes resembles comics sound balloons -- whap, splat, pow -- should be happy Sunday, when he and partner Pat Summerall broadcast the NFC title game between the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions from RFK Stadium (4 p.m., channels 11, 9). It's likely to be cold, muddy -- Madden's kind of day.

"There's one thing about football that's unique," Madden said in a news conference this week. "We don't call the games off. It's like golf -- you deal with the elements. . . . All those ingredients make the game the way it's supposed to be played."

And how will Sunday's game be played? Madden wouldn't make a prediction, beyond saying that a home team has a large advantage. But he certainly has some ideas.

"Do the Redskins take that approach, 'We're going to take [Lions running back] Barry Sanders away'? Do they put five [on the defensive line] and cover four [receivers] with six? Do you believe [quarterback] Erik Kramer can't beat you?" Madden said.

Beyond strategy, he said, the Lions are riding a wave of emotion.

"They've done more on emotion than on skill," he said. "Everything bad that happens, it becomes a positive [motivation]."

The most emotional aspect of the Lions' season has been the paralyzing injury to offensive lineman Mike Utley. The team has rallied around him, but Madden said he hopes the support goes beyond winning football games.

"Mike Utley needs people now," Madden said. "He needs them six months from now. He needs them six years from now. You hope that the foundation of the support system doesn't go away."

* Turn the page: "Everyday I write the book," Elvis Costello once sang. Maybe Ken Levine was listening.

The former Baltimore Orioles radio announcer is writing about his season with the team. Levine said he has a contract with Vilard, a division of Random House, for a book, which might be published in spring 1993.

Levine, who resigned after the 1991 season to return to his family and television writing in Los Angeles, said he didn't head into the radio job with the intent of writing a book.

"I kept notes during the season, really as a keepsake," Levine said Wednesday. "Enough things happened during the season that I thought it would make a good book."

Levine's former partner, Jon Miller, said: "It [the book] was kind of a surprise. On the other hand, I always thought it [an announcer's season] would be a good book."

So, would Miller like to do one?

"It's too much work," he said.

* Can he beat out Homer Simpson? Miller is up for another ACE award -- the cable industry's Emmy, which he won last year -- for his baseball play-by-play on ESPN's Sunday night games. The awards will be announced this weekend. . . . Miller said CBS never seriously pursued him for the baseball job opened by the firing of Jack Buck. Miller has a four-year deal with ESPN, of which two years remain. "Had they [CBS] asked, I wouldn't have gone to ESPN and asked out of my contract," Miller said. CBS named Boston Red Sox and ESPN announcer Sean McDonough to replace Buck.

* You read it here first: I had a hot scoop, so I --ed into the boss' office. The boss didn't turn around in his chair, but I laid out the story.

"There's a deal between Oliver Stone and NFL Films to make a movie of the Redskins season," I said. "It's going to be called 'RFK.'

"Stone has this conspiracy theory on the Redskins' success," I continued, nearly out of breath from excitement. "Key opposing players kept disappearing before playing the Redskins. And two of them were named Sanders. A coincidence? Was that real rain that made the field a mess before last week's game?

"Who do you think is the favorite team of the CIA? Whom do they root for at FBI headquarters? At the IRS?

"The shadow network even engineered some Redskins losses to throw us off the trail," I said, lowering my voice. "The story of this season will make Iran-contra look like a third-rate burglary.

"So, what do you think?"

"What do I think of what?" the boss said, coming in the door. "Why were you talking to an empty chair?"

"Never mind," I said.

Things My Boss Wants to Know: When NFL Films puts you on hold, do you hear "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor?" on the phone? . . . Is it true that Sun columnist Mike Littwin and Washington Post sports editor George Solomon performed a Righteous Brothers medley on this week's "Washington Post Sports Talk"? . . . Is Joe Gibbs' car battery commercial yet another example of the magic of Claymation?

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