Since 1979, John Madden has been the gold standard in NFL broadcast analysis. He's been less of a man and more than a brand. And today, that brand is retiring. After 30 years in the broadcast booth, John Madden is calling it quits.
Madden gave his reasoning in a statement released to NBC:
It’s time. I’m 73 years old. My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I’m home and, more importantly, when I’m not…
It’s been such a great ride… the NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion – it still is. I appreciate all of the people who are and were such an important part of the most enjoyable, most fun anyone could have… that great life with the teams, the players, the coaches, the owners, the League… my broadcasting partners Pat and Al… the production people and the fans …is still great… it’s still fun and that’s what it makes it hard and that’s why it took me a few months to make a decision.
I still love every part of it – the travel, the practices, the game film, the games, seeing old friends and meeting new people… but I know this is the right time.
Madden leaves behind a long and distinguished legacy. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He's been the premier color analyst on the country's top football broadcasts for much of his career, including a 20-year stint alongside booth partner Pat Summerall broadcasting Fox's top NFL matchups on Sunday afternoons. Both broadcasters became a staple of Sunday football, and Madden's popularity boomed during the period.
In 2002, Madden took perhaps the most coveted sports broadcast job in the business: Monday Night Football. He was partnered alongside Al Michaels -- a veritable broadcast dream-team. In 2005, after ESPN began broadcasting MNF, Michaels and Madden both transferred to NBC's Sunday Night Football show, a move that helped make the Sunday night games nearly as popular as Monday night's. Fellow NBC NFL commentator Cris Collinsworth will take over for Madden.
Madden was the rare sports personality whose cultural persona looms larger than life. The EA Sports football video game franchise has made him a household name to gamers young and old everywhere, and his ads for athlete's foot medication and home hardware goods are ubiqituous.
More than anything, though, Madden has influenced an entire generation of broadcasters, and beyond that, an entire generation of fans. There are many of us that have never watched football without Madden around. Even as he has declined in his later years, sometimes turning into a parody of his former, more insightful self, Madden has been what all good broadcasters are to their audiences: a steady force. That is John Madden's greatest accomplishment.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who can't wait to see Big Red in action again. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.