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John Madden - Hired As Television Commentator

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Madden spent some time at home, rather bored. He could not tolerate watching games in the stands. His agent soon convinced him to try television commentary on NFL games for CBS. Madden agreed to give it a try, though it was a big adjustment for someone who had spent two decades on the sidelines. Madden began as a fill-in, but his colorful personality worked well for television. He was very observant in his expert analysis, revealing his intelligence and humor. He also did his homework. To prepare for television, he asked others in the business for advice.

Despite his initial reluctance, Madden told Roessing, "When I did my first game, I immediately realized this was what I wanted to do. You see, I can't live without football. It's been part of my life since I was a little kid. I want to be involved in football and announcing the rest of my life."

Madden soon became better known for his commentary than for his outstanding coaching career. By the early 1980s, he was CBS's chief NFL analyst and teamed with Pat Summerall, with whom he would work until 2002. Madden and Summerall covered the big games of the week and the Super Bowl. Madden contributed

John Madden, being carried off field

a new approach to the way analysts approached game coverage. When he began in the late 1970s, little research was done. By the early 1980s, he used some techniques similar to coaches to break down the game or games he and Summerall would be analyzing for the week. Preparation was important to him and he took pride in doing it well.

Madden was successful because he could communicate his ideas about football in way his audience could understand. As Sarah Pileggi wrote in Sports Illustrated, "Talking is what Madden does best. He is a born communicator. His talent for putting thoughts into words that engage the attention of a particular audience and his special knack for infusing these words with his own personality have been the keys to his success not only as a broadcaster but also as a coach." This technique and Madden's approach came to define a new era of sports broadcasting.

Madden's work as analyst had several unexpected bonuses. He had an offer to have a recurring role on the television situation comedy Cheers but did not take it because it would have interfered with his football commitments. A popular video game was developed that bore his name, and he was a popular motivational speaker. His most visible bonus was in commercials. He took on many of the amazing number of commercial endorsement offers he received, representing Ace Hardware and Miller Lite beer for a number of years, as well as Tinactin, and many other products and services. Because of the sheer number of spots he appeared in, Madden eventually built a $1 million studio near his home so he would not have to travel to tape the commercials.

Travel was a big issue in Madden's life. He did not like to fly, and had been diagnosed as claustrophobic. His problems with claustrophobia began in 1960 when football players from his alma mater were killed in a plane crash that Madden should have been on. He suffered through flights while a coach, but refused to fly after November 1979. Early in his broadcasting career, Madden traveled to his CBS assignments by train, a mode of travel he enjoyed because it allowed him to interact with people. He later had an endorsement deal with Greyhound that gave him his own bus. After the deal ended, he kept the bus but attracted other sponsors to cover expenses. Though the bus was less people friendly, he got to see some of America on his travels and find his own favorite spots. Madden's bus became a signature part of his identity as a broadcaster.

John Madden - Signed With Fox [next] [back] John Madden - Retired As Coach

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