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They Were Just A Couple Of Rookies

The date was Oct. 18, 1981. John Madden and Pat Summerall were in the first year of their long broadcast partnership, and Howie Long was a Raiders rookie taking the field at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Long recalled that the Raiders won on a blocked kick, and he knew that Ted Hendricks did the blocking. But he doesn’t think he knew who John Madden was.

“I came out of Villanova,” Long said, by way of explanation.

He knows him now. They have the same boss. Long is a studio analyst for Fox, and Madden and Summerall will make the call for Fox on Sunday when Dallas plays at Oakland. It’s their first trip back since 1981.

“Back then, they had two different configurations for the field. They played north-south and east-west, depending on whether there was baseball,” Madden said. “They were in the baseball configuration, and there was no booth to do the game in.

“I remember hanging out in some box, like hanging in some sort of an iron thing, a basket,” Madden said. “It was broadcasters in a basket.”

And Madden also remembers Long.

“I was only a couple of years out of coaching,” said Madden, who coached the Raiders for 10 seasons through 1978. “A big part of that team Howie started with was made up of guys I coached. I always loved tough guys. If you’re not tough, you can’t play, I don’t care how fast you are, how high you jump, what you do in your underwear.

“And there were three guys my ex-players told me about. One was Marcus Allen, another was Howie Long, and another was Matt Millen. All my ex-players told me these were three guys I’d love to coach.”

Out takes

Does Madden know something the ornithologists don’t?

Madden will unveil his new Thanksgiving Day turkey next Thursday as he and Summerall make the call on the Vikings and Lions in Detroit. In past years, it’s been a smoked bird, doctored up to have six legs.

“Some guy offered me… . I mean, he grows ostriches. And he wants me to grow one with ostrich legs,” Madden said. “But no, we’re going to stick with a turkey. I’d like to get more than six legs, though.

“I think we could get a turkey to have twice as many legs as normal, and that’d be eight.”

Seen any nervous quadrupeds lately?

ABC Sports has found a long lost videotape of an interview Howard Cosell did with John Lennon in 1974 and will show it at halftime of the 49ers-Dolphins game Monday night in keeping with the network’s Beatles theme this month.

The impromptu interview was lost until ABC acquired what it calls a pristine copy made by a Beatles fan the night of the broadcast. Lennon and then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan were at the game at the invitation of Frank Gifford, an ABC Monday night announcer for 25 years.

“I remember looking over my shoulder, right before halftime, and Ronald Reagan had his arm around Lennon and was explaining American football to him,” Gifford recalled. “They stayed quite a while. John Lennon was really fascinated by it.”

In the interview with Cosell, Lennon talks about his impressions of his first American football game and also answers a Cosell question about whether the Beatles might ever be reunited.

“You never know, you never know,” Lennon tells Cosell. “I mean, it’s always in the wind.”

Six years later, Cosell broke the news of Lennon’s murder during a “Monday Night Football” telecast.

ABC will show a three-part “The Beatles Anthology,” beginning Sunday night.

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