Sunday, January 2, 2022

John Madden


I've been reading, watching, and listening to the tributes that followed last week's passing of former NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden, and all are wonderful.  Madden was a loveable guy who brought knowledge, fun and passion to his broadcasts.

However, one important fact is missing from the vast, vast majority of the Madden stories.

Pat Summerall.

CBS tested Madden with Vin Scully, the front runner to be on the lead broadcast team, and Pat Summerall.  The sanctimonious Scully kept Madden on a short leash.  Summerall let Madden be Madden.  The rest is history.

In an interview after Summerall's death, Madden talked about Pat's ability to draw the best out of his partner.  Madden added that Summerall asked him questions on the air that Summerall knew the answers to.  He just wanted to help Madden look and sound good.  Summerall also had the ability to pull Madden back to the game when he went off on one of his tangents.

Al Michaels was smart enough to build on that foundation.

It was a great pairing, and I severely doubt that John Madden would have been a major star if he didn't work with Pat Summerall.