Friday, April 17, 2009

John Madden: All-Time MVP of NFL

Al Michaels called John Madden the "most important person in NFL history."

He may have read my SN column this morning, channeling superlatives and instant history:
Why is Madden irreplaceable? Because he was the most important and influential sports media figure ever.

With his accessible and enthusiastic commentary, he redefined the "analyst" position (at a time when the NFL was skyrocketing in popularity and exposure through TV, which lasted from the pre-cable, concentrated-audience days of the 80s to the cable explosion of the 90s and the online explosion of the 00s).

After redefining game analysis, he transcended it. First, as a near-ubiquitous TV pitchman for everything from beer to hardware stores. Then, in the greatest achievement of his career, as a video-game icon for multiple generations of fans -- none of whom ever knew him as an actual coach.

There are plenty of big personalities in sports media. Madden was the biggest -- and most successful.
In addition to being the most important/influential person in sports media history, Madden qualifies as being on the short-list in the debate over the most important person in NFL history. (Logistically, you could say Pete Rozelle was most important, but -- screw it -- Rozelle never had a video game.)

-- D.S.

1 comment:

Geo B said...

John Madden was a talking head. Can't be more important that Pete Rozelle who brought the AFL and NFL together.

Madden (in his prime, since he usually did NFC games I seldom watched him) helped bring attention to the game, but is no where as important as say, Gene Upshaw was.