Love of the Game

Soccer game strategy on whiteboard. Drawing with football tactical plan on marker board. Vector illustration.

John Madden was a Hall of Fame NFL Coach who led the Oakland Raiders to 8 playoffs and their Super Bowl win in 1976. On December 28th he passed away.

After he quit coaching, Madden was an unlikely choice for a sportscaster. He would frenetically gesture like a windmill or boxer. He was described as looking like “an unmade bed.” And his use of words like oomph, bam and doink had never been heard on-air before. Yet for nearly 30 years, Madden was one of the best commentators of all-time, and created many new fans including Deborah-- who credits Madden with her love of football.

Why was Madden so popular? A former teacher, it was as if he was sitting in front of you and explaining the game. One of his tools was the Telestrator which was invented to teach science. Writing on the screen, Madden would illustrate plays with x’s and o’s and viewers believed they understood why a play succeeded or failed. Most of all, he genuinely loved football and his enthusiasm was infectious. He won sixteen Emmy Awards for his broadcasting, eclipsing even his career as a successful coach.

Madden can be an inspiration to all of us, football fans or no. Knowing our topic is the entry point, but how we present our material is the critical factor. Never fear that you don’t have the perfect words, or that your physical presence isn’t right. Like Madden, be authentic and genuine. Focus on bringing your insights to an audience with passion, humor and candor. Then make popcorn and enjoy the playoffs at the end of this NFL season.

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