When John Madden announced his retirement, my reflex reaction was one of happiness. Madden has driven me absolutely nuts for almost 10 years now.
Cris Collinsworth, for all his faults, is 10,000 times better in the booth than the 2008 version of John Madden.
Trust me, it’ll be an upgrade.
And yet, I’m a little sad to see Madden go.
I remember going over to my grandfather’s house for Thanksgiving and listening to Madden call the game. I remember knowing it was a big game, simply because Madden was there.
And he was good. Back then, he was damn good.
Anyone under 20 probably can’t fathom this, but Madden wasn’t always the guy you were forced to watch on Sunday Night Football last season. He used to be great.
He used to be the best.
It’s unfortunate that most young Patriots fans only remember Madden for his “play for overtime” comments during the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl. By that time, Madden had long since lost his fastball. If he was Pedro Martinez when he first started with FOX, he was Tim Wakefield by the time the Patriots and Rams met in that Super Bowl.
In his prime, Madden was the perfect color commentator. He knew football, he had credibility, and he could talk to both hardcore and casual football fans.
Don’t take that last point lightly.
There are very few commentators who could explain what just happened both to my liking and my mother’s.
John Madden had a way of doing it.
Madden understood his audience, and he played to it perfectly. Just enough nuts-and-bolts stuff to keep me happy, and just enough “boom” and simplification to keep my mother happy.
There isn’t a color commentator in the game today who can do it like Madden did. And there may never be another one.
In his later years, he became a caricature of himself, but he remained “hip” by having his name attached to the greatest and most successful sports video game franchise ever.
Trust me, kids today know who Madden is because of the video game. Not because of how well he does in the booth with Al Michaels.
So, anyway, I’m going to miss the guy. The NFL won’t be the same without him.
This article originally appeared on New England Patriots Examiner.
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