God dammit man, this one HURTS. It's honestly crazy and not talked about nearly enough that John Madden was worthy of the Hall of Fame to three different generations of NFL fans for three totally different things. Football fans in the 70s knew him as the incredible Raiders coach that led the silver and black to a Super Bowl title and still has the highest winning percentage in modern NFL history.
This gif should be in the Hall of Fame too
After he retired from coaching, he became the announcer that could make you laugh AND smarter about football one BAM at a time along with telestrator work that Michaelangelo would be jealous of. When you heard his voice, you not only knew it was a big game but you knew you were going to have fun.
No singular person had a bigger impact on my life as a sports fan than John Madden. The passion and fun with which he called a football game turned me from a casual football fan that watched the Giants every Sunday because it was just the thing to do to someone that became obsessed with all things football to the point he demanded his parents slap a satellite dish to their house and get DirecTV just so we could watch NFL Sunday Ticket until his eyes bled along with every prime time game. There are plenty of announcers who can get the first part of that down but nobody has touched John Madden when it comes to the second part. Listening to John Madden call a game was like watching a game with your buddy in your living room, only if your buddy just so happened to be one of the greatest head coaches ever. Him and Pat Sumerall were as good a team as there has been in broadcasting and for me as big as the biggest sport in the country, which made his eulogy at Summerall's funeral hit all that harder.
Then millions of people knew him simply as the guy that invented the greatest sports game ever, in my humble opinion. I know that people have been down on Madden forever since it's been essentially a roster update for years now. But a lot of the anger towards the game is rooted in knowing how revolutionary it was and how incredible it could/should be. And the reason it was so good is because John Madden demanded it actually resemble a football game instead of whatever shit video game companies were pumping out with like 4 bit graphics.
You know a game has to be good if my dumb ass went to Michaels to buy a shadow box so I could proudly display it on my wall
I was talking to Robbie about our favorite Christmas gifts on My Mom's Basement last week and I said how getting a Sega Genesis was my number 1 because not only did I get a video game system but I got introduced to John Madden football for the first time, which again changed my life to the point I ran Madden seasons in school and hosted tournaments at my house along with playing it until my eyes bled when they weren't bleeding on NFL Sundays (Looking back, I may have had some serious eye issues as a kid).
Playing a Madden franchise with my roommates is one of my best memories from college, which is saying something. Seasons with 8+ user teams would be over in 10 days max. The amount of stories that came out of that game are simply astounding. Two such stories that I blogged about once upon a time are here:
Also a not so quick story just because it's the second thing I think of when I hear the name Mike Alstott after him crushing human bodies and souls. When I was in college, my roommates and I had a 10-man Madden franchise. Everyone was allowed to make one trade per season since we didn't want every team to essentially become fantasy rosters. Most people would trade for a quarterback or stud receiver or middle linebacker. Well my one buddy used his one trade on a fullback named Michael Joseph Alstott. While everyone loved Alstott for reasons that can easily be identified in that 60 second video, using your one trade on a short yardage back in Madden seemed like a crazy move since you could just sort Free Agents by Break Tackle and get a pretty decent option without using your one trade.
Since we needed to keep the league moving, if you didn't play your game in a couple of days, you would get simulated. The one rule was Injuries would be turned off since we live in a society and all. Well the Alstott owner had held us up because he had a full day of classes. The other owners wanted to get their game in because college students have never been the most patient bunch. The Alstott owner walked in the house a few hours later after a couple of games had been played and the season had been saved. He asked if he won, was told that he lost, and then said "Well at least you turned injuries off, right?". The kid's face who hit Simulate told everyone the answer was clearly "No, I forgot". We went to the Injury Report page for the Franchise and all we saw was:
Mike Alstott (Herniated Disc) - Out For Career
Not out for the week or the year. But out for career. Game Over. Because of a simulation. Still the most brutal thing I have seen in Madden just because it was so easily preventable, which of course makes it better because we still bust the Alstott owners balls for getting his soul ripped clean out of his body because of a video game til this day. So thank you Mike Alstott for not only providing wonderful memories on the football field but also on the video game operating table.
Not to date myself, but when I was in college we used to have a Madden league and imported NCAA Football rosters for new draft classes. One of my roommates was the Texans and drafted RB 34 from Oregon State AKA Steven Jackson. When it came time to rename him to Steven Jackson, he instead chose to rename him to Horse Moo because that’s what he said a queef sounded like. Yes I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but in college you don’t really bat an eyelash when one of your friends does something stupid. Well, every time Horse Moo played against our friend who was the Colts (which was a lot since they were in the same division and we banged out a full Madden season every two weeks or so despite 10 idiots playing in it), he would run for roughly a billion yards and the Colts player would scream “FUCK YOU HORSE MOOOOOOO!!!” as the Texans player would scream “HORSE MOOOOOOOO!!!!!” at the top of their lungs. So when I hear the name Steven Jackson, I think of him being named Horse Moo in Madden after a ridiculous description of the sound a queef makes then think about the former All Pro running back then think about this funny anecdote of Jackson refusing to take a drug test. This story may have taken home the bronze medal, but it’s a strong bronze in my mind.
My buddy and I played the NFC Championship Game of our franchise during our townhouse's Christmas party. Full crowd of drunk idiots as he kept tossing 50 yard touchdowns to Randy Moss in double coverage, ends up beating me by 3 to win.
He decides to play the Super Bowl vs. the Jets right after we finish. He's leading a close game almost the entire time and scores a TD to Moss with 20 seconds left. Jets get the ball, Curtis Martin runs a diagonal route in the middle of the field, and takes it 80 yards to win the Super Bowl as the entire house goes crazy while my friend's soul leaves his body.
The Curtis Martin Game lives in infamy til this day.
Oh yeah and he helped the Little Giants take down those scumbag Cowboys led by that no good hot shot Kevin O'Shea.
I randomly wrote a letter to Madden about 10 years ago like an elementary school student because I wanted to thank him for everything he did just by being so awesome. Not at his jobs, which he obviously was awesome at. But as a person. Because what you saw is what you got with John Madden, who was to sports what Alex Trebek was to gameshows. He made everything better by being completely completely original and unapologetically himself. Fuck this sucks man.
If there is any positives to take out of today it is that John Madden got to hear only the finest praises for his work from peers in his industry before he passed in the All-Madden documentary on Fox that should be run on a marathon on one of the Fox Sports channels along with his A Football Life on NFL Network.
UPDATE: They are playing it tonight and tomorrow so set your DVR NOW.
Clearly there are a million different clips of John Madden being awesome floating around the internet. I'll do my best to corral them here. RIP to a true legend in ever sense of the word.