Football Announcer John Madden Retires

Madden Will Always Be Synonymous With NFL
By David A. Lane of

Just as Martin Luther King most represented the civil rights movement in America, a person thinks
of Bill Gates when mentioning computers or the Microsoft Corporation, ganja or reggae music when
thinking Bob Marley, and definitely NFL football when the name John Madden is spoken. Among his
numerous achievements, football has always been the common theme throughout his very successful
career as he announced his decision to retire from announcing the sport at the age of 73 on Thursday. A
Hall of Fame coach and an accomplished announcer, there may never be a better definition of the word icon
than him.

Madden always loved football and he played the sport as an offensive tackle while earning a
degree in education at Cal Polytechnic University. He was drafted in the NFL’s 21’st round by the
Philadelphia Eagles in 1958 but unfortunately suffered a knee injury the following year that ended his career before he ever got a chance to play. His love for the game lived on as he looked to coaching after he had
returned to school to get his masters degree in 1960 before eventually becoming a defensive assistant
under coach Don Coryell at San Diego State University.

It was there that he gained notoriety as he served until 1966 when the school had progressed far
enough to become highly ranked among other small colleges- enough so that the Oakland Raiders owner Al
Davis had taken note, hiring him as the teams linebackers coach in 1967. The move worked out well for both
as Madden instantly contributed to the Raiders cause helping coach them to an appearance in Super Bowl II
that same year. In 1969, Davis hired him as head coach at the age of 32 making him the youngest head coach
in the NFL. Though his teams made it to the AFC title game in five out of the next seven seasons, he finally
hit the jackpot just as the whispers of the phrase “can’t win the big one” had grown loud, winning 32-14
over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl X I on January 9, 1977.

The highlight of his career was followed by a season of illness that was very much caused by the
job itself as he battled stomach ulcers off the field while his team lost again in the AFC Championship- this
time suffered at the hands of the arch rival Denver Broncos. Madden retired for good from coaching the
following year when his team failed to make the playoffs but did so as the coach with the highest overall
winning percentage including playoff games, the youngest coach to ever reach 100 victories (at age 42), and
his teams never having had a losing season under his guidance. It wouldn’t be long before America found
out just what it was exactly about John Madden that motivated the likes of players he coached at the time
such as Lyle Alzado and Howie Long who were characters in their own right.

In 1979 CBS hired him to be a commentator on NFL games and amazingly enough he did well-
good enough to be promoted to the number one team two years later with Pat Summerall. His use of the
telestrator combined with his trademark expressions: “Whap”, “Boom”, “Wham”, “Doink”; made watching
a game fun and enjoyable for those who weren’t traditional football fans. He simplified the X’s and O’s and
chalkboard talk to a level that made the game, for most, easier to understand- definitely a creative use of his
teaching background.

Having a sense of humor has been a very important factor in his success as comedians have poked
fun at his style and his ‘Maddenisms’- sports cliches that he basically crushes and makes his own- all in the
name of pushing enjoyment of the game as far as he possibly can from the broadcast booth. Though on
some occasions his broadcasts might have missed the mark a bit, more often than not the games he did were
the most enjoyable ones all week much like Howard Cosells were during his time. After making it to the
number one broadcast team, he has stayed there from 1979 until stepping down just yesterday- not an easy
feat for anyone to do in such a high stress and huge turnover type of position.

In recent years, there has been increasing chatter that perhaps John’s shtick had grown tiresome
among viewers and that it would soon be time for a change. Some people complained that his various
exclamations and once unique reaction to the game had grown predictable and boring, perhaps missing
some of the excitement that once defined him. Regardless of what this minority of fans felt about him, no
other announcing team in football was near as enjoyable whether his partner was his latest one Al Michaels,
his most reknown assistant Pat Summerall, or even the very talented play-by-play man Verne Lundquist.

Somehow, Madden has defied all odds as his staying power has had a
lot to do with his very good work ethic as he has worked for or done ads for: EA Sports, Ace Hardware,
Outback Steakhouse, Verizon Wireless, Rent-A-Center, Miller Lite Beer, Sirius Satellite Radio, Tinactin
Spray, Westwood One Radio, CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC, among others. He has also acted in movies such as
Little Giants, the Replacements, the Simpsons, and Saturday Night Live. The video game that bears his
namesake has also been among the most popular for years for a variety of reasons- mostly that it’s a great

Vince Lombardi. Mike Ditka. Bill Walsh. Like Madden, all of these men had lots of foresight,
innovative ideas about the sport, a clear vision of how to implement their ideas, and all were in a position
to bring about change during their time on the job. Luckily, a common theme among them was that they all
shared ownership that allowed them to fully develop their ideas and become the icons they were destined to
be. Though he may be stepping aside as an announcer to spend more time with his family, you can bet that
somewhere John Madden will still be involved with football in some capacity which is just the sort of thing
you’d expect from an icon of his stature.