At 73, the most famous TV sports analyst of all-time is calling it a wondrous career.
Oft-imitated, never duplicated, we probably won't realize how much we miss him until he’s gone.
And the cool thing is, he goes out on top, calling one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played, the epic in Tampa between the Steelers and Cardinals.
A few weeks ago at the NFL Owners Meetings in Dana Point, California I saw Madden and told him that his excitement and analysis of the epic Super Bowl between the Steelers and Cardinals was tremendous.
Play it back (you know you DVR'd it) and listen again to Madden's reactions on the James Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald and Santonio Holmes touchdowns.
Listen to the analysis right before the Fitzgerald touchdown when Madden said that, in order for the Cardinals to get down the field on Pittsburgh late in the fourth quarter, they had to clear the middle for Fitz. And then they did.
He was, in that game, as engaged and “into it” as he had ever sounded.
“Anytime you have the last game and have it go the way this one did, it's a good year,” he said.
I asked Madden if he'd watched the broadcast of the Super Bowl. He said no, he never watched himself announce.
“Why?” I asked.
“When I started out, I never liked to look at pictures of myself,” he explained. “Someone would say they had a great picture of me, I’d say, ‘Keep it, I don’t like pictures of myself.’ So when I started on TV, I watched tapes of other games but I never watched my own or tapes of things that I did.
“I figured out, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable (watching myself) and if I don’t like what I see I can’t change it,” he added. “When I first started everyone said, ‘Just be yourself.’ So I always just tried to just let it go and relax and let it happen which is what you have to do in live television. But the thing is, if that is ‘yourself’ and you’re being honest and that’s your reaction at the time and you watch it and don’t like it...where do you go from there?”
Well, that John Madden never got to hear John Madden do an NFL game was his loss. Because it was good and unique.
When you talk about the best NFL broadcast teams of all time, the pairing of Madden and Pat Summerall for all those years on CBS and Fox and then Madden and Al Michaels for three terrific years on NBC need to be at or near the top.
Madden’s analysis was rooted in teaching. And he understood his audience wasn’t coaches and players who knew what “overs and unders” on the defensive line or the Cover-2 were instinctively. He got the fact that a lot of America couldn’t find the “A-Gap” if you let them wander around the field for an afternoon. So he kept it at a Football For Dummies level and punctuated his analysis with “Booms!” “Whaps!” and the like.
And while he certainly had his favorites (could it be that Madden simply couldn’t go on in an NFL without Brett Favre), he didn’t fill his commentary lobbing platitudes all over the broadcast like, say, Dick Vitale does on college basketball.
You got a really honest assessment of the damn football game from Madden. Agenda-free.
And now that the Madden Cruiser has come to a full-stop and that move he used to make when the camera came to him in the booth – hands folded on his belly watching the field, then a half-turn to his broadcast partner and the hands waving out to the sides before a half-turn back to the field – won’t be seen anymore, let Madden’s voice come to mind and think these words to yourself…ready?
“Now there goes a football announcer right here.”
PFT: Defensive end finally finds a new team in San Diego — and for a honey of a deal that would be worth a max of $13.35 million.
A legendary career
John Madden was a legend on the field as a coach and also in the booth as a broadcaster.
More from Madden
Time to say goodbye
April 16: After a long deliberation, John Madden tells KCBS radio that he finally decided he was ready to retire from broadcasting.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Chudzinski: 'Too early' to name a QB
Following Thursday's OTA, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski speaks to the media about his team’s brewing quarterback controversy. He feels the competition will aid in each QB’s progression as a passer, but he isn’t ready to name a starter for Week 1.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.