John Madden, after using the press for some negotiating leverage, signed a new five-year deal with Fox late Thursday.
So all the talk about him going to ABC stops here.
Madden, 61, talked to ABC, but the network passed, an ABC spokesman said.
The price no doubt was a factor.
One source said his new deal with Fox will pay him close to the $8-million a year his old one did.
So one of the pieces in a complex puzzle is now in place in a free-agent market that got flooded this week when NBC lost its NFL package to CBS.
Combining inside tips with a little guesswork and some wishful thinking, here are some predictions:
* Dick Enberg will stay with NBC, his longtime employer, contenting himself with golf, Wimbledon, the French Open, Olympics, and being the No. 2 play-by-play announcer on the NBA. Enberg will move up to No. 1 on the NBA next season after Bob Costas decides he needs more time off.
* Greg Gumbel will be the host of the new "NFL Today" on CBS. He'll be joined by NBC teammates Cris Collinsworth and Sam Wyche and one or two others. Joe Gibbs will decide he wants to devote more time to his NASCAR racing team. Will McDonough will go back to being a full-time sports columnist.
* Phil Simms will choose between offers from Fox and CBS.
* Jim Kelly will talk about returning to football but will settle for a job with CBS.
* Paul Maguire will take a job as a radio sports-talk host in Buffalo.
* Jim Mora will be on his way to getting fired by the Indianapolis Colts.
* Bob Trumpy will get a job as a football recruiter for USC, where he can tell everyone, "We're the only team in town."
* Charlie Jones, the dean, will get a job at CBS.
* Tom Hammond will stay at NBC.
* Randy Cross will go back to CBS.
* Jim Nantz will be the lead NFL play-by-play announcer at CBS, paired with Pat Haden.
* Sean McDonough and Terry Donahue will be No. 2 team, and every time they do a game in Dallas the media there will ask Donahue why he isn't coaching the Cowboys because Gary Kubiak, the new Cowboy coach, will have a losing record.
* Mark May and Keith Jackson--the other Keith Jackson--of TNT will get jobs at CBS.
* Sean Jones of TNT will be on Jim Rome's radio show even more often.
* James Lofton of NBC, a Stanford graduate, will end up on CBS' "NFL Today."
* Verne Lundquist of TNT, following Dick Stockton's lead, will continue doing the NBA for TNT and TBS and also do football for Fox or CBS.
* Marv Albert will remain unemployed.
CENTURY-WEST 2 UPDATE
Next Wednesday's USC-UCLA basketball game will be televised on Fox Sports West 2, which means Century subscribers on the West Side and elsewhere will not be able to see the game. Century does not carry Fox Sports West 2.
Joe DiBacco, a Century Communications vice president, said his company is trying to negotiate a deal.
Said Fox Sports West spokesman Steve Webster, "Yes, we are negotiating but we still don't have a deal, so the people on the West Side are still missing games, and unless we have a deal by next Wednesday, they'll miss the USC-UCLA game."
Century is a big supporter of UCLA athletics. A twice-a-month, public-access show, "Bruin Talk," produced by UCLA students, is taped at the Century studios in San Monica.
Also, Century donates video equipment to UCLA and regularly runs an ad in sports programs that reads: "We're hooked on Bruin basketball: If it's all-out sports excitement you're after, hook up with Century."
It sure would be nice if that were true all the time.
Nothing earth-shattering came out of O.J. Simpson's interview on ESPN's "Up Close" Thursday, although Simpson's saying that the Bible shows that Jesus and Moses went through the same thing as he did is sure to offend some people.
"Up Close" host Chris Myers, who had more to lose than gain by doing the interview, didn't soften the questions, nor did he badger Simpson. If anything, Simpson badgered him. Give credit to ESPN for letting the live interview run 25 minutes over the allotted time.
Sunday afternoon NFL games next season will start at 1:15 Pacific time. Both Sunday and Monday night games will start at 5:20. . . . ABC and ESPN have contracted to televise all 32 games of the 1999 Women's World Cup soccer tournament, to be played in the United States. This one will cost Disney only the $3-4 million it spends on production costs. . . . ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS will devote 70 programs and 154 hours to the Super Bowl next week. . . . Fox Sports Net's nightly news show, Fox Sports News, plus "The Last Word" and "Hardcore Football" will be done from San Diego, the Super Bowl city, next week.