Yes: In Monday Night Mayhem director Chet Forte is portrayed ending his powwow with producer Roone Arledge on the inaugural season of Monday Night Football by saying, "Cosell makes it huge." Well, John Madden will make it huge again. Just as people tuned in to hear Howard Cosell, football fans will watch the likable Madden, who will be energized by working with new partner Al Michaels. Network ratings may be falling because of cable TV, but MNF will exceed last year's embarrassing 11.5 Nielsen average by putting a personality on the air whose jokes don't require translation. Madden appeals to the blue-collar football purists and the under-18 crowd, who know him as the name behind the wildly popular Madden NFL video game. Need more proof? Madden's Q rating is equal to Muhammad Ali's.
No: It doesn't matter if it's John Madden, Jon Gruden or Jon Voight alongside Al Michaels in the broadcasting booth, MNF's ratings will continue to head south, as they have for the past seven years, even with the addition of Mr. Ace Hardware. With an ever expanding TV universe competing for fickle viewers, MNF will only draw big numbers when it gets a larger number of scintillating matchups. Clearly, though, a booth featuring Madden and Michaels is an improvement over the three-headed monster of Michaels, Dan Fouts and Dennis Miller. When you subtract inept sideline reporter Eric Dickerson, who along with Fouts and Miller was also taken off MNF last week, that's good news for viewers. At least for the ones who are still tuning in.