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Why I'll Miss John Madden

Apart from showing up with two dozen bratwursts and a harem of beautiful women, ripping John Madden for being John Madden is the easiest way for a nervous football fan to quickly win approval and has been for at least ten years. Maybe it’s because of Frank Caliendo’s brilliant impersonation; maybe it’s because the man gets around in an obnoxiously large bus he’s dubbed the Madden Express; or maybe it’s because he really is the embodiment of the obvious comment. I don’t know why he’s ripped on, and frankly, I don’t give a damn. He’s not my favorite announcer of all-time, but goddamn will I miss the old blowhard.

John Madden is unrelentingly enthusiastic, a walking, talking amalgamation of Prozac, testosterone and the American Dream itself. He’s the old guy complaining about those damn kids on the park bench, undoubtedly convinced he’s right and unwilling to consider the possibility he‘s not. He’s a throwback, a better salesman than Willy Loman and a better ambassador than Joseph Kennedy. John Madden is football fanaticism--the out-of-shape white guy too aged and lazy to play himself, too single-mindedly obsessed and so pathologically convinced his yelling at the television is helping to ever miss a game. John Madden is football fanaticism and to simply embalm a few stupid, ill-timed redundant comments as his legacy would be undermining just how much he meant for the National Football League.

John Madden was hired in 1969 by the Oakland Raiders. While other clubs fussed over physical appearance and maintaining a pristine public image, Madden and his coaches openly courted and signed the unruly and the rebellious. Stories of shady conduct and open debauchery followed Madden and the Silver and Black wherever they want. The Raiders were the team on the fritz, too hardened and grizzled for most but rooted on with a zealous blue collar devotion by the seedier, livelier elements of society. And as family friendly as he was, John Madden never lost that beer-swilling, hard-partying edge.

Like World Wrestling Entertainment’s Jim Ross or my beloved Cubbies’ Ron Santo, John Madden was more of a blindly devoted fan than actual announcer. He, like the rest of us, just wanted to see grown men punch each other in the face in order to run the ball three yards up the middle. That’s what I’ll miss most. He wasn’t the best at analyzing or describing the scene, but when shit went down, John Madden was there to bloviate on about how great it was. His enthusiasm was contagious. It’s always better to bring along someone who really cares. John Madden always cared--and he was always there--to get way too excited, help finish the turducken, and yes, provide the obvious comment.

Mack Rawden
Mack Rawden

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.