"The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else." - John Madden
John Madden was a professional football coach for the Oakland Raiders for 10 years. He won a SuperBowl in 1977 but more importantly he won over the hearts of many and brought folks a real sense of joy when he was on the sidelines.
After he retired at 42, he began another part of his legacy; a career in the broadcasting booth and arguably he was better at that job than coaching! I said - ARGUABLY! As a coach he averaged 10 wins a season and that’s considered successful! But as an analyst - he never missed. He won every time he was on the mic. He was effortless at explaining a game.
I’ve been reading how he’s being memorialized after his untimely death. Most colleagues described how he was able to talk about football in a way that made it palpable for a novice while being a “football insider” for the fanatic. The transition from the locker room to the broadcast booth isn’t an easy one but Madden did it for several networks over the course of 30 years.
During that time he became known as the voice of football. His habits and likes were a part of the conversation during nationally televised football games. For instance, it was no secret Madden didn’t like to fly so he had a bus drive him from city to city to call football games. Madden, football and Sunday we're an American tradition. One of his iconic moments in the booth revolves around a classic American holiday. Are you all familiar with Turducken? Madden shows folks how to eat and cut a turducken? Turkey. Duck. Chicken. Dressing. For me, it was equal parts scary and fascinating.
Madden is responsible for today's popularity of football in gaming. In 1988, the NFL and EA sports asked Madden to lend his voice to the video game. And just like that his legacy in football would be cemented for generations to come. When Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 he said the following in his speech “people always ask, are you a coach or are you a broadcaster, or a video game guy? I always say, I'm a coach, I’ve always been a coach.”
Madden had a long career in football. He wants to be remembered as a coach because he was a coach who happened to have an incredibly successful career in broadcasting. I remember listening to Madden when I was in school and it always felt like a lesson. He traded the clipboard for a mic. Madden went from ‘watching film’ after practice to ‘watching the game’ with millions. If you’re a fan of football, we were all his players. Madden has left an indelible impact on the game that has shaped how we listen and watch the game of football at present.