I never thought I’d miss John Madden.
I never thought I’d miss the liberal use of the word doink. The nauseating repetition of the Coach’s Clicker. The getting winded from speaking a compound sentence.
What a blowhard. What a meatball. But he made life more interesting. The bonehead.
Here’s the deal: I was listening to the Fox A team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. These are a couple of much more polished individuals who know a thing or two about the sport of football. I was watching the game when BAM!, WAP!, Turducken!, it hit me that there’s nothing overly idiosyncratic about anything they do. Nothing odd. Nothing at all unexpected. Which made me wonder how the broadcast would differ if Madden was still in the booth. Take off the polish and replace their civil, calculated opinions with real, live, in-the-moment reactions. Doink! Madden would be speaking his thoughts in real time, literally saying the words as they appear in his brain. That’s why his sentences could end so horrifically. Or trail off into stammering until the ball was snapped. Or end with grunts and stuff. He’s reacting on gut instinct, pure emotion, and undigested hot sauce.
This is the same John Madden who loudly uttered:
“The team who scores the most points will win the game.”
“They’re either going to run the ball here, or they’re gonna pass it.”
“When a guy runs he goes faster.”
“His helmet flew off…that’s the bad news. The good news is his head wasn’t in it.”
In the baseball world, I’ll miss this about Ron Santo, too. I’m a Milwaukee Brewers fan (living near Madison), but I will occasionally tune into a Cubs’ broadcast. The recently-departed Santo made such astute observations as, “Aawwwww! Nooo!” and “What?…Woah!” It’s like he was speaking to whales. Santo drove me nuts because he was as much a distraction from broadcast partner Pat Hughes as he was a broadcaster himself. But real emotion from the gut of a human being counts for a lot with me. Maybe I should have appreciated him more, too.
I guess what I’m saying is, John Madden, I owe you an apology. I was bothered by your volume level and your bumbling, but my football enjoyment could have been better served by sitting back to enjoy the show you provided. Maybe someday we’ll run across each other while touring America in our recreational vehicles, and the two of us can share a laugh and toast a Miller Lite.