Thursday, April 16, 2009


It’s amazing how a guy who did his job consistently and devoid of controversy can actually be reviled.

There are a lot of comments such as “thank (insert deity here)”, “about time already” and other less-sanitary thoughts around the internet and in person about the retirement of John Madden from the broadcast booth.

It’s not surprising that Madden decided to park his mammoth bus for good, but what set me back a bit was how quickly a good bit of NFL fans (likely those of Generation X and Y) were to cast him aside.

As budget as it seems to post a comment made on Scribe-favorite, TV by the Numbers, this is what I felt was what Madden was all about:

I always appreciated that besides showing favor towards a certain retired quarterback, he was fairly objective towards both teams on the field. You can tell with some analysts that there’s some favoritism or disdain, even if it’s not outright said. Among all the love and hate comments about Madden, I feel that everyone overlooks that. It’s going to be different and I hope that (Cris) Collinsworth can provide at least an ounce of that levity.
Madden loved the game and it showed in every broadcast. He may have not been as sharp in his last years, but considering the knowledge that all fans have gained over the years independent of broadcasts (enough scouting reports and YouTube clips could make all of us seem like experts), is it that much of a shock that he seemed to make these ‘obvious observations’?
Those of us that are fans and/or involved in the media should appreciate what he’s done.
I say this because unlike many who say “I put the game on mute because of the announcers”, I can appreciate what the (wo)men in the booth are trying to do. There’s a balancing act between speaking to the obsessed fans and speaking to those we hope become fans. Most of us who consume sports were born as these leagues, teams and players were already established in the American psyche. The rules may have not been innate, but with millions upon millions sharing their stories and passions with family members and friends, the concepts of these games were naturally absorbed. However, for those of us who are still trying to gain familiarity with the action on the screen, the broadcasters are bestowed a responsibility to explain, if not teach, the purpose and details of the executed plays.

Madden’s signatures may have been scribbling on the telestrator and dropping a few ‘Booms’ during the game, but he did those things because simplicity was essential to explain a complicated game. Adding snarky and jaded commentary, in his eyes, would have deterred him from speaking about the game’s essentials.

That’s the fear I have with Collinsworth. While he has the technical strengths and the experience with multiple networks (FOX, NBC, HBO and Showtime), you can say he may have spent too much time with some of the most opinionated (read: sarcastic, negative and strong on the ego) personalities in the business. Maybe he picked up something from Bob Papa for his NFL Network about only pulling out the opinions when absolutely necessary, but what can transpire between him and Al Michaels will be interesting as the 2009 season progresses.

Now, enjoy this for old times' sake (thanks to the uploader for this bit of sheer excellence).

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