John Madden's Success Starts New Chapter

Nick LiljaCorrespondent IApril 16, 2009

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 05:  Coach John Madden poses with his bust after his induction during the Class of 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on August 5, 2006 in Canton, Ohio.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

They say success breeds success. The more you do well, the better you do. Olympic volleyball coach Taras Liskevych once told me that.


I think he was talking about John Madden.


See, to John, football wasn't a weekend job, it wasn't a career, it was a way of life—and as cliché as it sounds—a great life. A life that allowed him to become the winningest coach of all time. It's a life that gave him the opportunity to change the way people understood football.


Because, when you think NFL, you think John Madden. People who can't differentiate Brett Favre from Michael Vick, know Madden's voice. He broke down the game so that the average fan walking by a TV set could understand.


John wasn't a man, he was a wish: Pete Rozelle's wish.


He got his degree in education and it was most evident when he turned late draft picks into stars or couch potatoes into experts. But that all came to an end today.


What I'm trying to say is, John Madden is retiring.


As a coach, John Madden often credits Don Coryell for his success. See, Madden coached along side Coryell prior to the “Air Coryell” days. It was 1963—the same year the NFL Hall of Fame opened it's doors.


It was before Coryell recorded three undefeated seasons with San Diego State in 1966, '68 and '69. But John learned a lot from Coryell. Mainly how to win—a lot.


When Madden broke in the AFL in 1967 it was with the Oakland Raiders and Al Davis (yes, the same Al Davis) couldn't fathom the gold he had discovered. Two years later, Madden was the head coach. While he was criticized as being a coach who couldn't win the big game, as he only brought home one Lombardi Trophy, he did win.


Madden's overall winning percentage—including the playoffs is first in NFL history. He never had a losing season as a head coach and became the youngest coach win 100 regular season game. He did that in 10 years when the seasons were 14 games long.


Madden couldn't lose.


When he made the transition to the broadcast booth his winning streak continued. He could do no wrong. After two years of working with CBS he was asked to work with Pat Summerall. It was like watching Gene Kelly and Donald O'Conner. They were the perfect pair. Sumemrall had the voice and Madden the charisma.


Before John Madden the guys in the booth had no pizazz. No charisma. Madden brought new life to the booth and engaged the audience. He changed the landscape of football on television. Without him there would be no replays, no telestrator.


He has 14 Sports Emmy Awards, has given commentary during 10 Super Bowls, and even held a streak of 476 consecutive weekends having been in a booth. He is the Cal Ripken of sports commentary.


And now, he is moving on. It's a sad day for football fans. Truly, a Sunday with no Madden is like a sunrise with no birds or a picnic with no blanket. It can happen, but it isn't too pleasant.


Of course, he will live on inside every Play Station and Xbox. Because during that same time Madden was building his television resume he created, quite possibly, the biggest and most successful digital franchise in the world—his video game.


John Madden Football, later changed to just Madden is the staple of any video game system and has given birth to a cult following that view the second weekend in August as the “New Year.”


Well, it's a “New Life” for Madden. One he has earned after 60-plus years changing the way football players play football. If it is anything like the last, he will be equally as successful. Only, they say, a successful retirement is a relaxing one.


And it is well deserved for John.