"You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealins done."
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
The lyrics of the timeless cowboy anthem seem fitting for a sendoff piece to the one and only John Madden.
We all know enough about John's accomplishments that I wont recount them, but rather regale you with a tale of how John affected my own life. (As T.O. says, “get ya tissues ready”)
I’m 25 years old and started playing football 10 years ago. Madden, the coach, spokesman, Superbowl winning coach, Emmy winner, etc, was never even in my wheelhouse; There was a generation gap that 99.9% of the time I would have never had a clue who John Madden was.
Myself, and undoubtedly many other youngsters, were introduced to John Madden via his video game franchise; which was far more addictive than a coffee infused with nicotine (smokeaccino anyone?)
Madden was like an annoying coach track stuck on repeat:
“You have to kick the ball there, I don’t know what they were thinking.”
“You just cant take a sack there.”
“I wouldn’t have called that play there.”
Countless times my friends and I cursed Madden after he pointed out our digital mistakes...I swear, I hated the guy.
Then I started to religiously watch the NFL, and I began to see why everybody loved John Madden.
When he called a game you really could hear that he loved what he did. When an amazing play happened, you could tell that he admired the players. When a guy would make a lazy or foolish play, you could hear the disappointment in his voice; as if he held these players to a higher standard.
A lot of people would rip Madden for pointing out some obvious things during a broadcast; He also had some Theismann-esque quotes like “When your arm gets hit, the ball wont go where you wanted it to go.”
For me, that's what I loved about Madden.
He never tried to pretend he was something other than what he was. He screwed up on air, and would mumble and mix-up his thoughts, but in a round about way he always got his point across.
He had a man-crush on Brett Favre that was bigger than Romeo Crennel's waistline; Didn’t bug Madden, he just loved watching Brett chuck the ball.
Which brings us to today, Madden has officially decided to retire from broadcast.
He wants to spend more time with his grandchildren, and enjoy his twilight years surrounded by the people he loves. He is leaving on his terms, and walking away after achieving just about everything a man in his business ever could.
Well good for you John, you have brought a lot of laughter into my life and to those people around me. To me, you have been the epitome of class and dignity. I hope you enjoy your retirement and live many more years.
Just lay off me next time I go for it on fourth and eight.