Chris Ware/McClatchy Tribune
Football season doesnâ€™t officially start until the fall, but Iâ€™m already going to miss the following phrases:
â€œBoom!” “Pow!” “Bang!” “Whap!” “Wham!” “Doink!” “Brett Favre!” “Hey folks, itâ€™s John Madden!â€
Yes, Iâ€™m going to miss John Madden. Football became a pastime in my family thanks to the works of Madden. I appreciated the game of football because of him.
It all began at an early age, when I grew up around family members who talked about the Raiders. They began to tell the story of a young, passionate football mind that was only 33 years old when he got his first head coaching opportunity in Oakland.
Later came all the praise for being one of the youngest coaches to ever win a Super Bowl in 1977. He was 42 when he retired from coaching in 1979 and had over 100 career victories. But it was his work inside the broadcast booth where I began to pay attention.
Madden helped break down a play and how it worked to perfection for a certain team. He described what â€œhitting the holeâ€ meant, when a running back ran past the middle of the defense. He also explained the 4-3, 3-4, and cover 2 defense and the different schemes used.
He also began describing why there were so many great players on the football field. Why LaDanian Tomlinson had the ability to find the end zone. How Tom Brady stayed calm under pressure. The way Ray Lewis raised the level of play for his teammates. And of course, what made Brett Favre so special.
He also did this with past football greats. He explained Dan Marinoâ€™s arm strength, John Elwayâ€™s comeback ability, Jerry Riceâ€™s catching ability and Mike Singletaryâ€™s fierce facial expression inside his helmet.
John Madden was a football mind who drew the average fan closer to the television set. I happened to be one of those fans.
However, you didnâ€™t need to watch a football game Madden was covering to fully understand the game. Gamers also learned through his renowned video game collection.
Gamers discovered what the single back formation could do against the opponent. Or how a three man front can handle a running play. There was even an â€œAsk Maddenâ€ feature, in which he tells you what play you should run in a certain situation.
He also had the gamers live the life of an NFL player with his â€œSuperstar Mode.â€ The player you created went through the draft process, training camp, the regular season and even the interviewing process with the media.
Madden helped create a video game pop-culture phenomenon with the â€œMadden NFL Footballâ€ series. The games became a top-seller at electronic stores everywhere. ESPN even created a television show about kids playing in the â€œMadden Bowl,â€ because of the video gameâ€™s enormous popularity.
I started playing Madden video games since the 1993 version came out on Super Nintendo. Honestly, I sometimes wish I could dust off my SNES and play Madden â€™93 again; even though I love the games he has out right now.
Maddenâ€™s enthusiasm for football is the same vibrant attitude I want to have if I ever become a play-by-play announcer. Even if I donâ€™t make it to a broadcast booth, I still want to be passionate about my job, the same way John Madden approached his.
Every football fan has to appreciate what Madden did for the game. He made you understand football, understand the players and coaches and understand why he was instrumental in revolutionizing the football world.
Because of my appreciation for Madden, I now must pull one of his video games out, even if itâ€™s the Super Nintendo version.