The last game John Madden broadcasted was Super Bowl XLIII -- in Tampa, when the Cardinals played the Steelers. It was the end of an amazing era.
Madden died Tuesday, at the age of 85 -- the end of another amazing era.
Madden was a Hall of Fame coach who won a Super Bowl. A celebrated pitchman. One of the best NFL color analysts ever. The point man for the greatest video game franchise ever. It's often said that in trying to decide if a person belongs in the Hall of Fame, can you tell the story of the NFL without that person? You can't tell the history of the NFL without John Madden.
Fox just showed a great John Madden special on Christmas day. (If you haven't seen it, it will be available to stream on ESPN+ and will re-air on Fox at 6 p.m. Arizona time, 8 p.m. ET, on FOX on Dec. 30.) It went over the life and times of Madden in all his successful lives. I am of the age that grew up with Madden as the soundtrack of my love of the sport. I got into football just after Madden retired as a coach, so I only knew him as an ex-coach. I definitely saw all the commercials. And I watched all the games he did, from the early 1980s through the late 2000s.
(I didn't see his last Super Bowl, of course, being in the press box that night. But I saw it later, as painful as it was to rewatch.)
I played the Madden video game for years, until life made that too difficult. Now, my sons play it all the time.
John Madden was a true giant of the game. His impact was vast and lasting. Rest in peace.