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Madden to join NBC in 2006 with a six-year deal

From wire reports

John Madden was the first announcer Dick Ebersol thought of when NBC acquired the rights to the NFL’s Sunday night package.

In mid-May, Ebersol went to California to talk with the popular analyst and try to convince him to join NBC when the network begins broadcasting the NFL again in 2006. The work paid off.

On Wednesday, NBC announced it had signed Madden to a six-year deal to be the network’s lead analyst for their NFL coverage.

“We’re just positively giddy to have John Madden join NBC’s Sunday night football,” said Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics.

Madden has spent the past three seasons teamed with Al Michaels on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” a spot he will remain in for one more season.

“The whole thing (is) an opportunity to go somewhere where we’re starting something new, something different,” Madden said of moving to NBC. “… I just think that, doggone it, this is pretty good.”

Ebersol said that NBC is waiting until after the NBA Finals are over to talk with Al Michaels about possibly teaming with Madden again.

NBC is reportedly paying $600 million for a six-year contract that will allow the network to broadcast the NFL’s Sunday night game starting with the 2006 season.

Williams in substance-abuse program

Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was granted early reinstatement to the NFL’s substance-abuse program, agent Leigh Steinberg said.

Williams, who is driving back to Florida from California, is subject to 10 random drug tests a month for the remainder of his NFL career.

As a three-time offender, Williams faces a one-year suspension if he fails or misses a drug test.

Williams has to wait until late July to rejoin the Dolphins because of his status in the NFL’s drug-testing program.

Williams also faces a four-game suspension stemming from a third failed drug test for marijuana last year before his retirement.

Around the league

Wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim agreed to a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. … Safety Reggie Tongue was released by the New York Jets after starting all 16 games last season. … New Orleans Saints safety Dwight Smith will not face charges in Tampa, Fla., stemming from his March arrest for allegedly pulling a pellet gun on two fans who approached his car outside a fast-food restaurant. … Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Doss was suspended by the NFL for the first two regular-season games after pleading no contest to misdemeanor gun charges. Doss was sentenced to community service last week after pleading no contest to misdemeanor gun charges in Akron, Ohio, where he was arrested after firing a gun into the air outside a restaurant on May 29.

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