Midway through last night's beatdown, Al Michaels nonchalantly noted that John Madden wouldn't be in Tampa for next week's Seahawks-Bucs game, and awkwardness promptly ensued.
It came out of nowhere, especially since Madden is, ironically, the Brett Favre of the broadcast booth, having called 476 straight games over a 28-year television career. But at 72, and as someone who refuses to step foot on an airplane, Madden makes his way to venues via the aptly named Madden Cruiser.
Which means for this current stretch -- games in Jacksonville, San Diego and Tampa Bay on consecutive Sunday nights -- the Cruiser would log 4,782 miles in just 14 days.
Interestingly, it wasn't Madden's idea to take a bye week, but NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol. Still, Madden didn't dismiss it out of hand:
"I wasn't reluctant as much as I was 'let's wait and see how it goes,'" Madden said in a telephone interview Monday. "Last year we had a couple of tough (trips). I still enjoy the travel, but you'd like to be home once in a while. I've got five grandchildren. It's a quality of life issue. The 49ers and the Raiders not being good also has hurt, because you never get a home game. Even when L.A. had a team, I'd get to be home. When you see the grand kids, it's like they've grown two feet. So I'd like to check in once awhile, and this is a good chance to do that."
So, to recap: this is all Al Davis' fault. If the Raiders weren't so unwatchable, maybe Madden would get to call a home game more than once a decade. Thanks, old man. Thanks, for nothing.
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