After Further Review ... John Madden's recent retirement from NFL broadcasting recalls his quote from the foreword of my book Impartial Judgment: "I never thought that was possible. I mean, who are these guys? Ever hear of a kid growing up wanting to be a referee? Or going to college to be one? Then, all of a sudden, boom! There they are telling you what to do?" Madden retired from on-field coaching in 1979 after 10 years as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders with a record of 100 victories. The Raiders were the winningest T.E.A.M. in the 70s. He's now retired from broadcasting as the "best there ever was."
I had the privilege of refereeing in the NFL every year Madden was the Raiders Coach. The Raiders were a no-holds-barred group of renegades. They played all-out, every play, every down. As a referee, it was challenging! As successful a coach as Madden was, he said later that he "finally" became well-known when, after his retirement, he did a Miller's Lite beer commercial by busting through a fence. His 30-year career as a broadcaster has taken that fame to the pinnacle. He was always a coach; but as a sportscaster, he coached audiences, not players.
Madden lessons stand out. Lesson #1 - Following their Super Bowl XI victory over the Minnesota Vikings, which I refereed, the Raiders started the 1977 pre-season against the Seattle Seahawks in the King Dome. Before that Seahawks game, which I was assigned to referee, I talked with Coach Madden on the field before the game and noticed his diamond-filled Super Bowl ring. I said, "John, that's a beautiful ring, but I don't understand; you were the coach in Super Bowl XI and I was the referee. We were both on the field for the same 3+ hours; you got that beautiful ring and all I got was this (inexpensive) watch that the League gave me. How come - what's the difference?" Madden smiled and said, "Because you don't care who wins!" Profound.
Lesson #2 - After Coach Madden retired, he became a sportscaster on CBS for NFL games. His partner was Pat Summerall. Madden said he and Summerall would ask each other before EVERY game, "Is your bucket full?" Meaning, did you do your homework on the players, coaches, formations and strategies so that you could help the viewer better understand the game they were about to see. That lesson on preparation remains paramount with me today. I will miss John Madden.
Will you miss the "Maddenism" that you have heard from the Coach for the last 3 decades?
For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website: www.JimTunney.com, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to Jim@JimTunney.com