When CBS lost the NFL to Fox, premiere football analyst John Madden actually considered staying at the network.

But not for long."Then I started to think, `Well, what do they have?' " Madden told television critics assembled here. "And they had Winter Olympics and I figured . . . an old tackle doesn't belong there. And then I figure the other thing they have is golf and, you know . . ."

But even with CBS off his list, Madden had to consider offers from ABC, NBC and Fox - eventually.

"What I wanted to do (late last year) was wait until the Super Bowl was over and then decide," he said. "Because the most fun time of football season is at the end of the year and I hate to go through the whole thing and then not enjoy it."

So Madden announced he wasn't going to make any decisions until after the Super Bowl - although he really didn't have to wait that long.

"Someone said, `What the heck - you don't have anything to do with the Super Bowl,' " Madden said. (NBC, not CBS, broadcast the game.) "And then I decided to go with Fox."

And Fox finally won out because of his loyalties to both his broadcast partner, Pat Summerall, and the NFC.

"I couldn't see not going to . . . all those places that had NFC teams," Madden said. "And being with Pat Summerall, I couldn't see doing it any other way."

(Of course, the $32 million Fox threw Madden's way in a four-year deal didn't hurt any, either.)

Madden said repeatedly that he's thrilled to be starting over at Fox. "This is the most excited I've ever been about the start of a football season since I've been in broadcasting," he said.

And a big part of that is that Fox Sports is doing nothing but the NFL.

"I enjoyed my years at CBS, and I respect CBS and all the people who were there, but I think they got involved in a lot of things. And CBS Sports got a lot of things that all ran into each other," Madden said.