Thursday, April 16, 2009

Madden no more

NBC Sports just announced that legendary announcer (and Hall of Fame NFL coach) John Madden is retiring from broadcasting, effective immediately. Dick Ebersol's going to do a conference call later today to discuss how NBC's going to fill the void on Sunday Night Football (Cris Collinsworth, maybe?). After the jump, I'll have the statement NBC issued on Madden's behalf, and then feel free to talk about your favorite Madden memories, whether you feel he still had his fastball after all this time or was getting by on reputation (and whether Frank Caliendo changed the way you thought about the real thing), etc.
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.

37 comments:

Mike F said...

legendary announcer, but it seems like its time...I'll always remember his style and his rugged, yet romantic outlook on the game

he stands in contrast to Billy Packer who retired last year and who had millions of fans praying he'd go away

Adam said...

I have to wonder if Harry Kalas' death this week at that same age prompted this in any way.

Madden wasn't consistently great, but he was enthusiastic and smarter than many gave him credit for. At least once a game, he'd hone in on something with the line play or pass selection that was telling and wise. Just because he was popular doesn't mean he sucked; I was a fan.

Cris Collinsworth is the right choice to replace him. No question, no brainer.

Ed said...

Agree with Adam. Cris Collinsworth is the may be most consistently prepared announcer week in and week out.

I guess they won't be putting pictures on the camper anymore.

Ed said...

Let's try this again.

Agree with Adam. Cris Collinsworth may be the most consistently prepared announcer week in and week out.

James said...

Coasting on his rep definitely, a few years ago I remember thinking he was starting to turn into harry carey, but still great. Collinsworth seems the obvious/most likely/right pick.

LA said...

Did John Madden continue to travel by train to the game each week?
I haven't followed the NFL in years, so forgive me if this seems like a lame question.

EOTW said...

Madden & Michaels are so great together. I famously LOVE football but HATE the commentators, all of them, except these two. Gonna be hard watching Sunday nights without him. Enjoy it, sir!

Zachary said...

The only football announcer I really paid attention to was Keith Jackson, so Madden leaving the booth isn't that big of deal to me.

Tom said...

This blows. Madden may have JTS, analytically, during SB XXXVI, but he was still a great story-teller and old-school persona. Collinsworth may be a good analyst, but his whiny voice turns me off. I much prefer Simms, but he's a different network, of course.

First Fidrych, now this. The larger-than-life sports characters of my youth are all going away....

Anonymous said...

Madden was only recently inducted into the Hall of Fame due to his announcing. I feel your comment about "hall of fame coach" is grossly misleading.

Is Michael Jordan a Hall of Fame baseball player?

Pat Riley a Hall of Fame player?

Steven said...

After seeing Pat Summerall do the Cotton Bowl a few months ago, I realize that I will miss him for the way he let the game just happen more than I will miss John Madden. I was getting tired of hearing John Madden always recommend punting or kicking a field goals on fourth down.

I did not like Chris Collingsworth as an analyst his first go around, because his commentary seemed overly biased in favor of the 49ers, as was Al Michaels'. At least for now we won't have to worry about hearing too many praises for that mediocre team.

Off hand I can't think of any football analyst I am enthusiastic about.

Henry said...

He was great while he was on Fox and paired with Pat Summerall. Those were the glory days for Madden the announcer. They worked well together, with Summerall providing the on-field action and Madden demonstrating the nuts and bolts of the game. When Summerall retired in the early part of the decade, Madden seemed to lose his right hand. He was, as you said in the post, sailing on reputation from that point on. They paired him with Al Michaels through ABC and NBC but it was never the same. Now, I listened to Madden's stuff on games and almost always thought he didn't bring much to the table. But that's just me. I was a fan, but honestly, he should have maybe left the game soon after Summerall did.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Madden was only recently inducted into the Hall of Fame due to his announcing. I feel your comment about "hall of fame coach" is grossly misleading.He was inducted as a coach. Whether the announcing career played into that doesn't matter. He's there as a coach.

Adam said...

Indeed, there's nothing on the HOF page about his being an announcer at all. Instead, details like "Madden coached the Raiders for 10 seasons, posting a regular season record of 103 wins, 32 losses and 7 ties. During that time, he guided the team to seven Western Division titles, including five in a row from 1972 to 1976. Under Madden's guidance, Oakland never experienced a losing season. Madden's Raiders made eight playoff appearances, including a 37-31 six-quarter AFC Divisional Playoff win over the Baltimore Colts in 1977. Perennial winners, the team never finished with fewer than 8 wins in the then-14 game season (8-4-2 in 1970, 1971).... Madden's .759 regular season winning percentage ranks as highest ever among coaches with 100 career victories. Only Hall of Fame coaches George Halas and Curly Lambeau had reached 100 career wins at an earlier age."

Oaktown Girl said...

I grew up in Oakland in a family that bled Silver and Black. My fondest memories of Madden are from when he was coaching the Raiders, and after that the beer commercials he did immediately after he retired from coaching.

At his age, it sounds like he's definitely making the right choice to spend time with his family. He's very fortunate to have been able to do what he loves for a living all his life.

BF said...

"I did not like Chris Collingsworth as an analyst his first go around, because his commentary seemed overly biased in favor of the 49ers"

Uh... you mean the Bengals. Right?

Anonymous said...

He was obviously in the decline but it's not as if any of the other announcers really teach much of anything at this point. He was still fun in the "going senile, crazy old uncle" kind of way. As much as I'll miss him, if it means we get less of that damn Frank Caliendo, it's worth it.

Elena said...

I loved John Madden, mainly for his voice and history with the game. I'm not a student of the game, more of a light weight fan, so I can't judge the quality of his commentary so much, but loved his comments about the game's history, his distinctive voice and style.
So many of the announcers today are cookie cutters --look all the same, same suits, crewcut hair, interchangeable commentary. Madden was an original, one I'll miss.
And Frank's impersonations didn't change what I thought, like any good impression, he exaggerated actual Madden qualities,and gave me a laugh now and again.

Bobman said...

Madden's become mostly a self-parody over the past few years. It's a shame, because he's obviously a passionate man and seems like the nicest guy on the planet, so I never really got the meaner ill-will that some people seem to have adopted towards him. But at the same time he just wasn't a great announcer anymore, and most of the games he and Michaels did ended up just being them shooting the shit for half the game and not even commenting on the play on the field. I'm sorry, but I don't watch football to hear them talk about other games or players or stories, I watch it to hear about the GAME I'm WATCHING.

Bob Timmermann said...

Does Frank Caliendo now become the 21st Century's answer to Vaughn Meader?

Alan Sepinwall said...

NBC, btw, announced Collinsworth as the replacement.

Steven said...

Uh... you mean the Bengals. Right?

Nope. I guess it must have been seeing Jerry Rice outperform him as a WR, and those two Superbowl losses to the 49ers that turned him into a big SF fan.

I used to be a reader of the 49er-haters websit and they called Al Michaels "smooch" because of his kissing arse to that franchise. Chris Collingsworth's was also high on their smooch scale.

Greg said...

NBC, btw, announced Collinsworth as the replacement.Alan, was there any mention if Collinsworth would continue his NFL Network duties also? I know it's a different network, but they may have mentioned it. Thanks.

Elroy said...

The NYT had a interesting take on Madden back in September. Given his recent retirement; some of their observations are particularly poignant.

Here’s the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/sports/playmagazine/0914play-SHOW.html?_r=1&scp=5&sq=john%20madden&st=cse

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, was there any mention if Collinsworth would continue his NFL Network duties also? I know it's a different network, but they may have mentioned it. Thanks.

I wasn't on the conference call, but I'm told it didn't come up. Not clear if it's been resolved yet, and as I'm not doing a story on it myself, I don't have time to chase down someone at NFL Network to ask.

My guess is Cris is done at NFL Network. It was one thing for NBC to let him do it when he was a studio analyst for them, another when he's now their lead game analyst.

Oaktown Girl said...

Thanks for the link, Elroy.
Well, I'm old enough to have grown up with Madden as my team's football coach (even wrote a report about him for my 8th grade English class!), but still young enough to have to "Wiki" "Vaughn Meader".

For the record, I've always been a fan of Frank Caliendo's John Madden. I understand why some people are sick of it, but it still always brings a smile to my face. I doubt Frank's in any danger of being a Vaughn Meader (thanks, wikipedia!) since he does so many other impressions. But my favorite impressions these days are Bill Hader's Al Pacino and Peter O'Toole. I could watch that forever.

Pandyora said...

I grew up on Summerall and Madden, but the "BOOM!" and "Did you see that!" routine had grown stale.

I wonder what will happen to the Madden videogame franchise now that the don is no longer in the booth?

DolphinFan said...

This might sound like highly qualified praise, but what the hell: I thought John Madden was a super commentator and enjoyed his mix of incisive thoughts and ordinary-Joe humor, and TO THE EXTENT THAT ANY COMMENTATOR REALLY AFFECTS ENJOYMENT OF WATCHING A GAME ON TV, he was a positive force. My overall point of view is that good games make for good commentary and vice versa; keep the facts up to date, provide some knowledge that an insider would have (this is where John Madden never got the credit he deserved, as a Hall of Fame coach who saw the details that made plays succeed or fail), and get along with each other (like Madden did with Pat Summerall and like, say, Boomer Esiason did NOT do opposite Al Michaels). Cris Collinsworth is talented and likable and very smart, which will hold viewers in good stead during close contests. And when it's a 35-3 game, it won't much matter who's talking about it.

Ebeth said...

I cannot stand Collinsworth. When he covered college football, I thought I'd hit the screen if I had to listen to him (and his incredibly biased comments) one more week. NFL can have him. I'm sure he's wonderful. I just don't want to listen to him.

I'm glad Madden is going out before he goes much further on the Harey Carey track.

sc said...

In a somewhat recent Real Sports profile on Al Michaels, I thought he stated that when Madden left, he too would retire. Alan, or anyone else out there remember this, and I wonder if in fact he is waiting and will in fact pack it in as well.

Alex said...

I can't stand Chris Collinsworth. I don't know what the rest of you see in him. He continually annoys me with his whiny voice and his smug attitude.

Chris the TV Sage said...

Agreements can always be broken, but it was recently announced that Al Michaels would be working daytimes at the Vancouver Olympics, so I don't think he'll be retiring imminently.

Castaway said...

Addressing a few things here:

To LA: Madden has been traveling on his own bus to games for many years. They've even had contests where you could win a chance to travel to a game with Madden. They talked about it so much that I even know it was called the "Maddencruiser".

On Collinsworth being biased: When would have a chance to be biased towards the 49ers these days? They've been mediocre for years, so I doubt you'll see much of them in prime time (and I never noticed any bias---it's just everyone thinks every national announcer is biased against their team because they're used to listening to their own homer announcers who think the team does no wrong). My problem is more that he comes off as a pompous ass, which means he should pair well with another pompous ass (though a great announcer when he still wants to be) in Michaels.

On Madden: He was great in his day. Of course eventually he was parodied and became so famous that some of the old comments got to be cliches, but he had to have something going to reach that point. He wasn't as good in recent years but still fine---never quite the same when not paired with Summerall either. And yes, he's in the Hall of Fame as a coach. He had the highest winning percentage in NFL history.

Emily said...

Favorite Madden comment--following a particularly stunning hit: "That'll clean the snot out of your locker!"

Love him.

Jin's English Tutor said...

Madden was the best in the game for a long time (with Pat), but his progeny (Bill Maas, Brain Baldinger, Matt Millen) annoy the hell out of me. They all pass off common sense as football insight. Madden was guilty of it, too, but his sly humor always made up for it with me.

LOVE Collinsworth in this role, even if if he is a dirty Gator.

Sonia said...

I am so sad to see Madden move on into his very well deserved retirement. I always enjoyed his "regular guy" brand of talking -- he never tried to talk above his audience and seemed to genuinely enjoy educating the viewers. I learned more about this game from him than anyone else. I will miss his enthusiasm for brutal tenacious defenses, and his appreciation for the really tough standout players. The All Madden Team became a media joke, but early on in Madden's announcing career, it was awesome!

I personally don't care for Cris Collinsworth...he's kind of smug. But I will give him credit for being very knowledgeable, well-spoken and well-prepared.

Nomad said...

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