Where Are They Now?: Mike Adamle

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June 25, 2014

Mike Adamle and Jerry "The King" Lawler

Yet as his gridiron career began to wind down, it wasn’t his ability to bust through a defensive line that led him to his next gig, but his skill at poetry. Adamle’s poem about his Chicago teammates, “The Ballad of the Special Teams,” ended up being set to the Bears’ highlights at the end of the 1978 season. 

“Men of all different shapes and sizes committed to a common goal, hurtling their bodies in a combat where fractures take their toll,” he rhymed.

Adamle’s way with words made him a perfect fit in broadcasting, and he soon joined NBC’s NFL pregame show and Olympics coverage. His experience on the field made his new job a snap.

“The transition from being an athlete to talking about being an athlete was pretty simple,” Adamle said. “Although, to this day, I would much rather do it than talk about doing it.”

Adamle was presented with one of the most unique opportunities in sports broadcasting in 1989, when he was asked to host and provide play-by-play commentary for “American Gladiators.” The show that featured hulking bodybuilders and ex-football players bulldozing over regular Joes with military pugile sticks and giant metal spheres was a phenomenon in the early 1990s, and Adamle was in the middle of it all.

The former NFL player even got to tackle events like the Joust and the Eliminator when he took part in a special celebrity edition of the show, as a last-minute replacement for actor Dean Cain.

“They jumped at the chance to beat the crap out of me,” Adamle said with a laugh. “That was part of the fun. It was a riot.”

After “Gladiators” came to an end in 1996, Adamle went on to work for ESPN before returning to Chicago as an anchor for the local NBC affiliate, until WWE came calling in early 2008, looking for a new member of the broadcast team. Adamle jumped at the opportunity to call the exciting action, but quickly learned that working at WWE was unlike any other job in broadcasting.

Making his debut at Royal Rumble 2008, Adamle reported from ringside in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden. Though he had been working in broadcasting for more than a quarter-century at that point, the veteran reporter admitted there were some jitters.

“It was kind of petrifying, to tell you the truth,” Adamle recalled. “You would think that with a lot of the live experience that I had, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but that place was packed and I learned from the get-go that WWE fans were a different breed. They know more about their sport than football fans know about football and baseball fans know about baseball. They know everything.” 

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