If you’re my age or no more than 10 years younger than me, you would remember hearing a football game being analyzed by John Madden. He worked for CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC. Arguably he was the voice of the NFL and largely responsible for the growth of the sport in today’s day and age. The fact that multiple generations were touched by one man is a testament to his accomplishments both on the field as a coach and off the field as a broadcaster.
John Madden and my other favorite broadcasters, the late Chick Hearn of the Los Angeles Lakers and Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers, made it seem like they were talking to you individually in your own living room. They knew they were talking to a massive audience on any given game day, but were extraordinarily gifted in taking a one-on-one approach to broadcasting the game.
In the case of Madden, his love of the game was apparent right from the first time you heard him. You could feel the passion coming from his voice after every play. No matter how insignificant it might have been to you, but to him everything was important. From every pass, run, block, sack or interception. All the little things in between he would amplify and show that every detail mattered.
That passion he brought to the video game world as well. Most of my generation knows him from the Madden video games and I used to religiously play them for the better part of a decade. That video game franchise brought another generation into the NFL and is a large part of the culture today.
When I learned that he was a coach in the NFL and had won a Super Bowl while doing so, it all made sense. His love of the game and what he brought to the broadcast booth and virtual reality, it all came from his coaching days. The way his former players talked about him and the respect he demanded, but also gave in return showed why he was a successful coach in the 1970s with the Oakland Raiders.
While I was saddened to learn of his passing, I rewatched his A Football Life episode and will certainly watch the All Madden documentary in the near future. I came away feeling grateful that I was able to listen to as many broadcasts with him as I did.
There is no doubt that the passion I feel for the game is due in large part to him. Whether it was a Thanksgiving day game with an six legged turkey or the famous turducken. His last broadcast being Super Bowl XLIII (43) between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals which had a thrilling conclusion at the end. Or even the “Boom! Tough Actin’ Tinactin” commercials.
He lived a very fruitful life and one that will be marveled for many generations to come. My prayers and condolences to his family for their loss. Thank you coach for your passion and wisdom. Rest In Peace.