To say that I am a huge sports fan would be an understatement, but to say I am a bigger fan of NFL Hall of Fame Coach John Madden would be the biggest understatement. I am not the know-all and be-all on Madden, but I can hang with the big guns on some things Madden.
So you can tell that when I got the news that the NBC’s gavel-by-gavel announcer was calling his final time out, or should I say retirement, a bunch of his famous quotes and one-word descriptions just started rolling through my mind.
It seemed like only yesterday that I became a fan of John Madden and thought Pat Summerall and Madden were joined at the hips. John and Pat were a staple in my household, just like my favorite jerk chicken and ginger wine on Sundays.
To me, Sundays were never the same without him in the offseason, and no matter which television station held him under contract, John Madden had his loyal following. After all ,this is John Madden we are talking about—he puts the “Boom” in the word boom.
John Earl Madden was born on April 10, 1936. A former player in the American Football League, Madden was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958 as the 244th overall pick as an offensive tackle. His career with the Eagles was short lived, as he suffered a career ending knee injury during training camp and retired the following year.
After coaching stints with Buffalo State College and Allan Hancock College in California, Madden was hired at San Diego State University as an Assistant under Don Coryell. To this day, Madden credits Coryell for his influences and mentoring.
As Madden grew through the ranks in college, the former Cal Poly alum was hired by Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis as a position coach. John Madden was then placed within the Sid Gillman coaching philosophy.
Madden’s hard work and dedication helped the team to reach the Super Bowl that year. Following the 1967 season, head coach John Rauch resigned from the Raiders to accept the head coaching job with the Buffalo Bills. John Madden was promoted to head coach of “Da Raiders” on Feb. 4, 1969.
His era as a head coach was one filled with success and few disappointments. Coach Madden’s winning percentage, including playoff wins, were ranked first in league’s history. He won the Super Bowl and never had a losing season as a head coach.
But even though Madden kept the Raiders in the playoffs, ownership was not content, and after five title-game losses in seven years, the Raiders were described as the team who could not win the “big one.”
Madden was determined, and after suffering losses which left him and his team coming up short, the Raiders finally won a Super Bowl in 1977 against the Minnesota Vikings. Madden went on to become the youngest coach to reach 100 career regular season victories after 10 seasons, at the age of 42.
After John Madden retired from coaching, he moved to the television booth, and that is where his career grew even bigger. He was hired by CBS, where he worked through the ranks. By 1981, John Madden and Pat Summerall became the “it” sportscast duo.
The duo of Summerall and Madden went on to call eight Super Bowls—five for CBS and three for Fox Sports. After working a number of years with Fox, Madden made the move to NBC in 2006, to become the only sportscaster to call games for the “Big Four.” He teamed up with famed sportscaster Al Michaels to call the 2009 Super Bowl.
But John Madden is more than a bio. He is more than stats. He is larger than life.
He was afraid of flying, he has a luxury tour bus, he was colorful with his words, he was creative in his work and loaned his name and voice to the EA Sports Madden video games. Oh, how he makes my teenage son happy.
A colorful sports analyst who sets the stage with one-liners and one-word interjections—that was the John Madden I love. The words “boom,” “whap,” “doink,” were only some of his trademarked interjections. In my house lives a teenage boy who did not need a “Fathead” of any of his football heroes because John Madden lives in his head on Sundays and during all of the offseason.
So as Madden bids us farewell on a stage where his Hall of Fame bust will hang with the greats—coaches and players in the NFL in Canton. Let’s close our eyes one more time and listen to any game you choose as Madden talks his way through a busted play.
OK, OK, I will share mine: “A fumble is a fumble is a fumble."
Thanks, John, for your perfect “carries” the “booms” and all your “rah-rahs.” Here is going out with a “bang.”
Fourth and long!!!