Sunday, April 19, 2009

And Now, Time To Go Count My Money!

I’m not saying John Madden was mailing it in at the end, but when you outsource the computer generated “color analysis” on your best selling video game to Cris Collinsworth, then you pretty much know the end is near.

Kudos to the big fella for knowing it himself, and pulling the plug before somebody was forced to do something ugly.

John Madden retires as the most well known, well paid, and well liked NFL analyst ever.

The rest is up for debate.

Was he the best? Not hardly, not by my eyes and ears.

Was he the hardest working? I doubt it. I think most others matched his preparation or exceeded it, once Madden showed how much coin you could make in the profession.

Will he be missed? Not really, but I’m sorry if your Sunday Nights just won’t be the same.

When Madden’s announcement came down last week, several colleagues said: “Well, Czabe, you won’t have him to kick around anymore.” Which got me to thinking. Did I really kick him that hard? Was he so famous, so rich, so popular that he wasn’t allowed to be kicked every now and then to keep him honest?

When he fell asleep briefly on the air with Al Michaels in mid-sentence at the Hall of Fame Game? When he failed to recognize Al’s wry gambling references as they flew harmlessly over his head at 30,000 feet? When he would talk in such circles, that it resembled what a dog would sound like, if a dog could do play-by-play on itself chasing it’s own tail?

No, I think I was fair with Madden.

My biggest push back was never against him per se, or his work, it was just the incessant media fawning over the guy. The same kind of genuflecting that went on all day on Friday in the wake of his retirement.

Enough, people.

He did not “help popularize the sport” as my co-host Andy Pollin tried to insist. The NFL was already on a rocket ship to the moon, Madden just rode it.

As for the video game, let’s also be real.

EA Sports, located conveniently in Silicon Valley, hitched it’s wagon to the local boy gone big time, and helped push HIS star even further! People rave about Madden and his idiotic (read: great!) video game, and they think he actually had more than 1% of input on how the thing worked!

It’s not like he wrote the early code for Madden ’94 for the Sega Genesis.

So much of Madden’s early announcing success, came because of his perfect pairing with minimalist Pat Summerall. Pat’s words left un-spoken, left a big stage for Madden to play on. And Pat never failed to set up John to look good.

This may shock some of you who have listened to my shows for years, because I once CRUSHED Summerall too for his blunders. But that was in the dying years of his broadcasting abilities. Summerall in his prime, was not only sublime on NFL Football, but also very soothing and solid while doing the Masters. I’m glad Summerall is still with us, and in still good enough health to be heard by me on various shows last week.

And the same I will feel about Madden. God bless him. He had a great career. And he deserved every bit of it. But I’m not going to start commissioning any statues for the guy, or anoint him the “greatest TV sportscaster ever!”

I am however, worried about my buddy Frank Caliendo’s mood at this point. Never before has one spot on impersonation, launched such a Hollywood/Stand Up career.

First, Billy Packer. Now, John Madden. Dick Vitale, you are “on the clock!”


  1. I always liked Madden. I can see how people might have gotten sick of his act (when you're on for 30 years, that's inevitable), but in my eyes, he had the greatest NFL career of all time.

    10 years as a head coach; won a Super Bowl. Whether you want to admit it or not, he revolutionized the color analyst role.

    As far as the video game, sure, he didn't have much to do with creating it, but EA made out pretty well in the deal as well. Who else could have lent their last name to the game and made it a household name? Dierdorf '92? Simms '02? Kornheiser '10? No one else could have pulled it off.

    Thanks for the memories, Madden! I will miss you. I'm going to stop by my local Ace Hardware store this weekend and pick up a Garden Weasel in your honor.

  2. John Madden seemed to really love what he did for a living, especially for the last 30 years or so