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Gut Feeling: What Is John Madden's Real Legacy?


Usually, the Gut Feeling post is saved for a few days before the game, getting the writers' last-second thoughts on the upcoming game.

And while we have that article on Friday as well, previewing the Arizona game, we wanted to share some thoughts and memories on the passing of John Madden, the iconic coach/broadcaster and video game creator.

No matter how long you've followed the NFL, it's nearly impossible not to have some kind of connection to John Madden.

We asked our staff writers to reflect on Madden's career and to define his legacy.

Rob Phillips: "BOOM!" To this day I still quote that and other Madden-isms with my friends whenever football's on. Anyone who grew up watching the NFL in the '90s understands how he and Pat Summerall enhanced the quality of a broadcast. Watching a Madden-called game was like having my uncle with me in the living room. He had a totally original, casual style, striking a perfect balance between educating and entertaining the viewer. It wasn't forced. He made it fun. And he really became synonymous with the Cowboys because he and Pat did so many of their games as the No. 1 network team. Forever an icon and ambassador to the game.

Nick Eatman: I think we all have different definitions of the word "Legend" or "Legendary" and sometimes we throw that, and words like "Goat" out there too often. But there's nothing too casual about calling John Madden a legend. To me, if a 12-year-old kid, his 40-something father and his 70-year-old grandpa are sitting in the room, talking about John Madden and all having their own experiences, then that is truly legendary. Some might remember him coaching the Raiders and most of us can remember the way he called a game in the booth. And now, even the young kids – who have never even see him on TV, know the name as one of the most iconic video games of all time. I know for a fact there are kids out there who heard about players from the video game and then started to watch them on TV, and usually it's the other way around. But that was the power of John Madden and the effect he has on the game – both then and now. Speaking of "power," I almost felt that literally one day in 1999 when I was nearly run over by him in the hallway back at Valley Ranch. I had to stop to get out of the way, but he never stopped. He just uttered "heh... you would've lost that battle." No doubt, to me, John Madden was pretty much undefeated in everything he did. He is truly a legend and will be missed forever.

David Helman: I'd be lying if I said I had one, specific memory of John Madden that warms my heart. But as a guy that grew up in the 90s, I feel like his work was one of the main soundtracks of my childhood. Whether I was watching routine NFL games with my dad or tuning in for the Super Bowl, Madden's presence on my TV screen hammered home that whichever game was about to start was a Big Deal. Even before I got into the video game, I just came to associate that gruff voice with big-time football. It makes me wonder who that person will be for future generations. There are a lot of talented people working in NFL broadcasting right now, but I'm just not sure if any of them measure up to John Madden and what he brought to the game.

Mickey Spagnola: This should be a big thank you to John Madden. Remember how he hated to fly, one of the reasons he retired from coaching. And then when he got into TV, and since he hated to fly and after taking the train to games, going cross country, Madden came up with the idea of riding a custom bus to wherever he was going. Every week was a road trip. Got to see America. For John, visit these United States. Well, that spawned our idea of riding the Cowboys Bus, driven by Emory Tyler, to training camp. Going from Dallas to Oxnard, Calif., and one time, took the roundabout way from Dallas to San Antonio, driving through the Hill Country, down through The Valley, and up through Corpus Christi before ending like a four-day trip in San Antonio. Those bus rides created some of the best memories of my writing career, connecting with Cowboys fans along the way.

Kyle Youmans: It will be hard to find an individual that has made such a wide impact on the sport of football than John Madden. Countless fandoms began from his passion, mine included. Growing up, I wasn't the biggest pro football fan and didn't know much about the NFL outside of the Cowboys, but I still knew Madden and his booming voice. His influence as a coach touched thousands. As a broadcaster he reached millions. And as an innovator he created and avenue through video games that will impact countless football fans for generations.

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