Just how big was NFL broadcaster John Madden? Well, he was known much more for his time in the booth than his time on the sideline as a Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders. There is an entire generation of NFL fans who don’t even know he was a coach. They just know him as, “that guy who makes his own sound effects during football games.”
“Boom, right there! Watch him hit the hole. Bam!” Anyone who watched an NFL game in the last 30 years knew who John Madden was. In his lengthy career as an analyst he was irreverent, humorous, entertaining and most importantly for career survival, he was different. When he came on the scene to broadcast football games, nobody had ever described the action like he did. It was refreshing, candid and downright funny! I remember a game in the 80’s Madden was broadcasting with Pat Summerall (best football duo ever), and NY Giants QB Scott Brunner threw a wobbly, ugly pass to Bobby Duckworth. Summerall said, “There’s a pass to Bobby Duckworth.” Madden’s classic response. “That looked more like a duck to Bobby Passworth!” Just beautiful.
The thing I liked most about Madden was his respect and admiration for the Baltimore Colts organization. When Madden coached the Raiders during the 1977 divisional playoff game at Memorial stadium, he marveled at the passion and enthusiasm of the fans of Baltimore. The game went to sudden death overtime and the Colts would lose, but Madden calls it one of the greatest games he’s ever been associated with. When asked, he would always talk about the Colts in high regard and gave them the respect they had earned as groundbreaking players who helped make the game what it is today. Madden knew NFL history. Madden respected NFL history.
He certainly had his detractors, and he did become a little too cartoonish for my taste towards the latter part of his broadcasting career, but there is no denying the NFL has lost a broadcasting icon who had a major impact on the game just by coming into our homes and talking about it. Cheers to John Madden. The NFL broadcast booth will never be the same.