We all know that John Madden passed away on Tuesday at 85. I have not seen the cause, maybe COVID maybe not. It's not how he died that matters though, it's how this giant lived and the passion he had for a game called football. Because Big Lucks, Ol' Blue Eyes, Schwartz and I are football fans HLS serves you just the tip of the iceberg about one of the Founding Fathers of Football.
John Madden wasn't just the name brand of arguably the greatest video game sports franchise of all time, or even just the greatest NFL commentator of all time, he was also arguably one of the greatest Football coaches of all time. That still doesn't explain what made him fantastic, his own words from a 1981 interview show the success he was:
"I don't know that I ever had a great player that was normal. To get outstanding performance you get some people that are a little left of plumb. I believed in letting them alone, personality-wise, giving them freedom, not thwarting them. In football you're doing things that aren't normal—running at high speeds, hitting and being hit, and getting tired and sore and hurt. That's not normal, yet some coaches want that same person to take off his gear and go be normal. They call it discipline. Bull. That's not discipline. It has nothing to do with discipline. I've seen teams that have dress codes, hair codes, this code, that code, all having nothing to do with winning and losing. They'll get to third down, short yardage, and three guys'll jump offside. I mean those guys come in and they look nice in the lobby, and then they jump offside. Those are undisciplined sons of guns. I'll take a guy that's wearing a T shirt and a pair of jeans and tennis shoes in the lobby, who when it's third down doesn't budge till the ball's snapped. That's discipline." (JM quote from September 1, 1983 Sports Illustrated Interview, Sarah Pileggi).
This is ART OF WAR level thinking, if it's not about winning the game of football then it's worthless--to a football head coach. This is why he coached 100 wins in 10 years with the same team, the first to do so.
If you want Madden interesting reads, hit this 2016 article from ESPN on how Madden got involved with EA Sports. Some gems from the article:
Madden taught a telestrator classer (X's and O's) at Berkeley.
Madden wanted to create a football simulator to make coaching better, sort of, Weird Science for Football.
EA Sport's Founder Hawkins and his Capo de Tutti Capo Ybarra pitched Madden on their game on a train (Madden doesn't fly).
The Game generated over 3 Billion in revenue (by 2016, so now it's way more, let me check, they say it's 4Billion now, seems like it should be more).
EA Sports originally wanted Joe Montana.
The ESPN article is great. There are so many others. We are going to record a Madden show on January 1, 2021. They will probably celebrate this Titan of Football at this year's SuperBowl. For me John Madden represents a guy who bypassed bullshit to win, Captained a golden era Raiders and lived his life with so much fire that his name comes before NFL on EA Sports games--and no one is made about it. That's because from everything I read, it seems like he truly loved people, the players and football.