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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.

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My son Aubrey had a recent brush with Bears fandom. With the NFC Championship approaching, I used it as a Teachable Moment.

We were at Saver’s (it’s a Least Coast thing, sort of a cross between K-Mart and a refugee camp). As it happens we were passing by the pre-stained visors, and Aubrey indicated that he really wanted this particular visor. I saw the blue and orange, but since it looked like a golf visor to me, I assumed it was for some caddy-training facility in North Carolina. I let him wear it until I noticed the insignia…then we had to have a little talk.

I knew it was time for some of life’s Harder Truths, but I figured it best to start gently:

“Son, the ‘Chicago Bears’ as they are popularly known, are a Communist front, and also a Satanic cult.

I knew it would get easier from there. “The entire organization – from GM Jerry Angelo all the way down to the lowliest kielbasa-monger in Soldier Field – HATES CHILDREN. Soldier Field was built over a Chuck E. Cheese and a waterpark. In 2003 the organization bulldozed an orphanage just to build an extra warehouse for off-site penalty flag storage. Chicago Bears Football Organization, Inc. is also the world’s largest producer of poison lollipops.”

Some of the more famous Chicago Bears:

George S. ‘Papa Bear’ Halas: inventor, sadist, coach, arsonist, communist spy. Before he came to this country he was a Romanian dictator. After inventing the landmine, he lobbied for legislation to abolish Christmas. Then he coached the Chicago Bears for 40 years. Before he died in 1983, he created fat-free pudding and disco.

Dick Butkus: When he was 12, Dick Butkus used his dad’s pickup to run over a Nativity scene in his childhood neighborhood of Roselawn Chicago. When asked how he lost control so completely in the tiny church parking lot, young Butkus replied that it wasn’t an accident, he just “hates the Baby Jesus real bad.” He is also addicted to dog’s blood. That’s right – he’s like a vampire, but for dogs.

And Mike Ditka, my god. In the early nineties “Iron Mike” Ditka played weekly cribbage games with Richards Nixon and Cheney. In 1993 – in order to pay off his cribbage debts – Ditka sedated his mother and sold both of her kidneys to an unlicensed medical facility in Mumbai. She died of renal failure later that day.

Today’s Bears: When he’s out of uniform, Jay Cutler will wear nothing but puppy skins. He has been acquitted three times of date-rape. Each time he blamed it on drinking buddy Mathew McConaughey, but in the third case McConaughey was actually a plaintiff.

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Evomalution

Remember when the Seattle and New Orleans both sucked? If it’s not what I love about the NFL, it’s what I’d hate: a new phoenix is always waiting to rise from the charred feces of last year’s phoenix. While my Chargers hasten to dismantle during the offseason and I look to find a new Cinderella Story for XLV, here is a Matt Taibbi Men’s Journal article that made me guffaw in a silent waiting room a while back: (the goodies are on page 2)

http://www.mensjournal.com/the-nfls-next-evolution

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Apparently, this is Prince’s fight song for the Minnesota Vikings. I want it to be a joke really, really badly. I fear that it’s not. It’s got too many of his signature harmonies, hell, it sounds like Wendy and Lisa (or Jill) are singing it. Maybe it was recorded in the 80’s. It’s got that Little Girl Wendy’s Parade/Graffiti Bridge/Diamonds and Pearls/Dolphin lameness to it. And that Under a Cherry Moon vibe as well. Plus, there’s a guitar tone and riff in the back that just has to be him.

It’s sounds like he’s going for a 1920’s waltz-y fight song. I. Just. Don’t. Know.

I love Prince. But I (shudder) have to agree with Jim Rome on this: it’s brutal. And yes, Pants on the Ground yelled by Favre is better.

Come on, Prince! You wrote Purple Rain! Parade! Sign O the Times! Controversy!

Sigh.

I stand by my Prince and Jack White post.

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