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Madden 04/17/2009

Posted by sportretort in NFL, Sports, Uncategorized.
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The NFL is a little diminished today. 

John Madden and Al Michaels in the ABC booth

John Madden and Al Michaels in the ABC booth

John Madden has retired.  For 30 years, love him or hate him, Madden was the gold standard of the NFL.  He made the game accessible to the casual fan.  Madden explained the game in a way that made it simple and understandable.  He communicated at a level that belied his vast knowledge of the sport.  It was his elemental approach to the game that made us relate to him.  He made us understand the block that was essential to the 40 yard run.  BAM!  But he did it in a way that made us think that he was a fan sitting along side us at the stadium.  He made us forget that he was a Super Bowl winning coach.  Even in this age of fantasy football, where EVERYONE is an expert, he made us know that he had forgotten more about the game than we will ever know.  But he did it with the exuberance of a fan.  He talked to us, not at us.  He talked with us, not down to us.  His partnership with Pat Summerall and then Al Michaels made them the best announcing teams in the sport.  Whether it was Sunday afternoon, Sunday night or Monday night, if it was Madden, It was football.

Madden popularised the telestrator.  Who can forget the turducken?  (Or even knows what it is?) and THE video game is not EA Sports NFL Football, it is simply Madden.  And long before there was the Terry award, or the all iron team, or any other copy cat rip off all whatever team, there was the All Madden team.   Madden made it about the game and the players.  He made it about the fan.  He made it about the love of the game.  It was never about him.

The problem with most former athletes and coaches who become commentators is that they make it about them.  They madden-sb-11know more than we do.  They are better than we are.  They did things we could not do.  They get in the way. They have to flash their expensive suit, or relate a situation to a game situation they were once in.  They consistently remind us that they are not one of us.   Not Madden.  This bear of a man was so successful because he was one of us.  There is an entire generation of fans who probably do not even know he was a player, or coached the SB XI champions.  All they know is the Madden Cruiser and the BAM and BOOM of a play.  They know they had a compatriot in the booth.  He was a fan, like them.  And if you think you will not miss Madden, just wait until his replacement, Chris Collinsworth, calls games next season.  You will know what we all have lost.

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