Legendary NFL personality and Hall-of-Famer John Madden died today at age 85. His death resonates with me a great deal.
I loved watching games called by him and long time partner Pat Summerall. I think many, if not most, NFL fans under the age of 40 don’t realize what a successful coach Madden was. Hired as a head coach at age 32, the Raiders compiled a 103-32-7 regular season record during Madden’s ten seasons in charge and won the Super Bowl following the 1976 season.
One of my favorite Madden memories, and one of the biggest laughs I’ve ever had, came during what I think was a preseason game before Madden was elevated to the Number 1 football broadcast team for CBS in 1981. A team was attempting a field goal and the kicker was bent so far over at the waist that the upper part of his body was parallel to the ground. Madden boomed, “Look at that guy. Look how bent over he is! I guess he has to smell the ball before he kicks it.” I became hysterical, laughing so hard that I developed hiccups.
I never met him so I have no idea if he was as down to earth as he seemed. I have never read or heard anyone say anything bad about Madden.