I hate John Madden! OK, that’s a little strongly worded. I don’t really hate John Madden the guy, I hate John Madden the football announcer. Madden has brought a lot of great things to the game of football and its fans. When I was a kid, I loved his “mud, blood, and guts” descriptions of the game and his boisterous style. I play his video game religiously – for those who take their football games seriously, Madden is the pinnacle of realistic gameplay. And I can’t deny Madden’s many contributions to the game – from coaching to announcing to just generally promoting the sport of football, Sundays just wouldn’t be the same without him.
But over the last few years, John Madden has started to wear out his welcome with me. He used to do mostly NFC games, so I didn’t have to watch him much. But now he’s ruining Monday Night Football every week – this is personal!! As he grows older, he’s starting to lose focus on the games. I wrote a little about this last year in my article What’s Wrong with the Rams? There were two key plays late in the game where the running backs overran their routes and basically nailed the coffin shut for the Rams. Madden was oblivious. By the time he opened his eyes and checked the replay, he had already decided that the play was a bad pass. He didn’t look, he didn’t question, he just blamed Kurt Warner for the pass. Anyone who has ever played in a football game knew differently.
Watch and listen as Madden calls a game. He barely pays attention anymore. He gets player’s names wrong so often that he hardly even tries, leaving that task mostly to Al Michaels. His so-called analysis of the game amounts to a lot of “Boom!”, “Pow!”, and “Wham!” and barely any breakdown of the plays, formations, defense or anything else. His drawings on the telestrator are basically just scribbles – he can give you some great inside information like “this receiver just ran across the field here and then the quarterback threw it to him.” Thanks, John! That one would have sailed right over my head!
I’m not saying an announcer needs to have a Ph.D. in football and break down everything from the play selection to the cleat selection to the cheerleader’s thong selection. (actually that’s not a bad idea!) But a good announcer tries to teach a little bit. A good announcer realizes that the average football fan is smart and knowledgeable about the game, and caters to that audience. A good announcer digs a little deeper, looking for the real reason why a play failed or why a good team hasn’t been able to move the ball all day. Madden used to do those things, but not anymore. Do us a favor John, save your “Boom!”, “Pow!”, and “Wham!” for selling power tools, and make room for a better announcer on Monday Night Football.