One of the best ways to get a discussion going on the Internet—be it on message boards, chat rooms or Twitter—is to bring up the subject of play-by-play announcers and color commentators working NFL games.
It doesn't matter who you bring up—Chris Collinsworth, Phil Simms, Joe Buck or Jon "This Guy" Gruden—all have their detractors and supporters. Heck, there are people who even dislike Al Michaels.
Let's not even get started on "analysts" like Bob Costas.
No matter who they are, what they do and how they do it, at some point they get compared to the biggest icon to work a game on Sunday: John Madden.
Love him or hate him (admittedly there is reasons for both), you have to admit that few people loomed larger in the football landscape than Madden; even people who didn't watch football knew who he was.
We're in the second season of Madden-free games and I have to say, I miss him a lot more than I expected. Sure, he slobbered over Brett Favre in ways that would make Gruden blush, and yeah he went a little nuts with the telestrator and, of course, his stories and analysis would wander aimlessly like a drunk college student looking for a place for a late-night snack when all the stores are closed looking for the elusive burrito—
What were we talking about?
Oh, right. Madden.
As crazy as he seemed, Madden made football more fun and probably pulled in more casual fans than just about anything besides fantasy football.
Here are eight reasons I miss the big guy—and it's not just a list of bad current play-by-play guys.