The retirement of John Madden brings the end of a chapter in the broadcast history of the NFL. It is not a sad day because he walks away of his own will at the ripe age of 73 having commentated games for CBS, FOX, ABC, and finally NBC. The team of Pat Summerall and John Madden will always be among my favorites because of their convivial relationship, one in which Pat routinely had to dress up dear John’s “color” commentary.
John Madden cut his chops as a linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders in 1967, and after having impressed Al Davis, the notoriously fickle owner, he got his chance as head coach two years later. Madden was the youngest head coach ever to reach 100 career victories and he did so in only 10 years of coaching. The Raiders for a time however had the reputation as a team that couldn’t win the big one having been to multiple championships under Madden and not returning the victor. Madden’s Raiders team was even stymied by divinity when on December 23, 1972 the “immaculate reception” stole away another shot at a championship. Finally in 1977 the Raiders broke through with a Super Bowl win against the Minnesota Vikings. Madden retired two years later due to problems with ulcers which could have been caused by Davis’ micromanagement, his many personal vices including overeating and alcohol, or a combination of the two.
John Madden had a long broadcast career spanning from 1979 to 2009, and he will forever live in the hearts of NFL fans because he was the icon of NFL broadcasting for the majority of his career. Even individuals who are averse to sports know who John Madden is, and a generation of young people will forever remember him as the namesake of their favorite football videogame. The game itself has even inspired the trash talking reality TV show Madden Nation, as well as the Madden Bowl contest held during Super Bowl weekend. It is hard to believe how many Madden videogames there have been, the series is so wildly popular that it even has its own spin-off dubbed NFL Head Coach. As an aside, to those Ravens fans who are unaware Ed Reed is being strongly considered as a candidate for the cover of Madden 2010. “Whoa”, “Holy Cow” Madden is so popular that he even has a curse named after him which is associated with the cover of his videogame. The legend says that whoever is featured on the cover of the game usually has a sharp decline in performance that year which is generally attributable to injuries.
It is fitting that Madden is retiring this year because it looks like retirement has finally stuck to his man crush Brett Favre, maybe Madden thought a year of not talking about Brett was more than he could handle. I think John will do well in his time away from the booth because he has made himself into a cottage industry as the spokesman for “Boom” tough actin’ Tinactin, Ace hardware stores, and Outback Steakhouse. Madden was an innovator during his time and is the first color guy that I can remember to use the now infamous telestrator where he drew unintelligible squiggles to explain certain plays on the field. No one will forget that Madden charm and the eloquent way he would talk about things such as the number of Johnsons in the Cincinnati Bengal’s locker room. So go out and fry a Turducken this weekend in honor of Hall of Famer John Madden.