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John Madden, April 10, 1936 – December 28, 2021, is Football

Written By | Dec 28, 2021
John Madden, Madden

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LOS ANGELES, December 29, 2021 — There is absolutely football in heaven. Heaven would not be heaven without football. This coming Sunday, God’s biggest and best television studio in the sky will have its best broadcasting team calling the games. John Madden (April 10, 1936 – December 28, 2021) has finally been reunited with Pat Summerall.

For the rest of us leatherheads, there is only pain. Rationally, we all know that death is a part of life. Emotionally, John Madden’s death is unacceptable.  He’s not allowed to die. He’s too important to die. We need him here.

Such pleas will be shoved back in our face like a blocked punt. John Madden is forever gone.

When his friend and broadcast partner Pat Summerall died, a crying Madden told the world, “Pat Summerall was football.” (Flashback: John Madden and Pat Summerall weren’t always best friends, but were always the best)

To say that John Madden was football would be insufficient praise.

John Madden IS football.  His legacy will last forever. 

The greatest finishes in NFL history bear his imprint.

The Immaculate Reception went against him. The Sea of Hands, Ghost to the Post, and The Holy Roller went in his favor. His 1973-1977 Oakland Raiders went to five straight AFC Title Games, a record that stood for decades.

From 1974-1977, the Raiders won 47 regular-season games and lost only nine.

Although he frequently said, “Football is my life,” Madden was a loving father to his two sons and a faithful husband to Virginia, his wife of 61 years.

John Madden was more than just a football guy. He was a guy who used football to teach Americans invaluable life lessons.

His most valuable life lesson is that losing your career does not end your life.

He wanted to be a professional football player but never made it to his first NFL game after blowing out his knee in the preseason. He was 22 and his playing career was finished. Madden was a guy wondering what to do with the rest of his life.

Somehow, he found a new way to find fulfillment.

Madden went into coaching.

At 32, Raiders owner Al Davis chose Madden to be the team’s head coach. Madden won 103 games in 10 years, the greatest winning percentage of any NFL coach with at least 100 games coached.

His crowning coaching achievement came in the 1976 season. The Raiders went 13-1 and smashed hated rival Pittsburgh in the AFC Title Game.

On January 9, 1977, his Raiders won their first Super Bowl.

Yet two years later Madden was finished coaching.

Madden developed a fear of flying. That fear drove him out of his profession. At age 42, he again had a career he loved taken from him. He had to find meaning in something else.

John Madden became not only an NFL broadcaster but also a fan favorite. He spent 30 years in the broadcast booth, over 20 of those years with Pat Summerall. After Summerall retired, Madden was paired with another broadcasting titan in Al Michaels. The pairing excelled.

Eventually, his broadcast career began to wind down.

He did not want to spend his final years playing golf or shuffleboard. Football was his life.

Electronic Arts approached him about creating a football video game bearing his name. He was only willing to do it if it would be authentic. EA Madden went on to be the best-selling football video game of all time.

Losing his playing career led to the best coach. Losing his coaching career led to being the best broadcaster. Then losing his broadcasting career, albeit on his terms, led to the best video game.

John Madden was authentic.

People loved him because he had no airs. He was the blue-collar guy at the bar talking football with friends.

He was far more than the guy with the vocabulary straight out of the 1960s “Batman” series.

His quotes could not have been said by anyone trying to say them on purpose.

“Don’t worry about the horse being blind. Just load the wagon.”

He began his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech as only GE could, with raw honest emotion and humor.

“I don’t plan on making a whole heck of a lot of sense, and I don’t care.”

Upon seeing his bronze bust, he insisted that inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame at night, “I believe that the busts talk to each other.”

He diagramed on his telestrator the proper way for Giants players Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor to dump the Gatorade bucket on Coach Bill Parcells’s head.

He revolutionized Thanksgiving dinner by introducing the world to the Turducken, a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey.

The Madden Cruiser

He drove around America in his big Madden Cruiser bus. He was football’s Charles Kuralt, greeting dairy farmers and waitresses as if they were kings and queens.

After the Holy Roller, he was on a split screen in what may have been an argument with the opposing team’s mascot. Long before Ace Ventura beat up an Eagle, John Madden yelled at the San Diego Chicken.

We loved Madden because he loved us. We were not related by blood, but we were his football family.

Saying John Madden was football is not good enough.

John Madden IS football.

He always will be.


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Eric Golub

Brooklyn born, Long Island raised and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”