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Boom, bam… bummer: Madden retires

April 16, 2009 - Per Peterson
Professional broadcasting has lost forever a number of great men — and great voices — in the past couple of months. These veteran play-by-play announcers like Merle Harmon, who died Wednesday, and who we know only by their voices and memorable calls have been physically replaced since their deaths, but in all honesty, most are irreplaceable. The NFL lost one Thursday, only this time because of retirement, when 73-year-old NBC broadcaster John Madden, who was born in Austin, Minn., called it quits. For some of you reading this, when you think Madden you think EA Sports and his mega-popular line of video games. But for anyone over the age of 30, Madden will be known more for his talents in the broadcast booth. You knew if Madden and Pat Summerall were doing a game, it must’ve been a big one. Those two set the standard for NFL broadcasting — whether it was CBS or FOX — because they had a respect and a passion for the sport that carried over into the booth. Fans got that and appreciated that. His scruffy voice, bumbling sentences that I think were a result of him trying to talk too fast, unlimited knowledge of the game and love of in-the-trenches, smash-mouth, cold-weather football far outweighed the fact that he was never a real polished broadcaster. His approach to calling games and his personality were a major part of the entertainment package the NFL offered every Sunday afternoon and, more recently, every Monday night. And the NFL will miss him. I will miss him. He'll be replaced by Cris Collinsworth, a one-time receiver in the NFL. It's my guess Madden wears a pretty big shoe; Collinsworth will never fill them. As head coach of the Raiders, Madden won a Super Bowl in 1979. As a professional broadcaster, Madden won over fans with his blue-collar, throwback style — a style that will never be duplicated.


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