Madden NFL, one of the most popular video game franchises in history, has sold well over 130 million copies since its 1988 debut. And yet, says Fox Sports reporter Tom Rinaldi with amazement, “There are people that don’t know John Madden is a real man.”
For anyone sadly in need of enlightenment about the name on the box — as well as those who already revere Madden as coach of the Super Bowl XI–winning Oakland Raiders and the only color analyst to announce for all four major broadcast networks — there is All Madden. This documentary profiles the figure who, intones Fox sportscaster Troy Aikman onscreen, “was the authoritative voice for our sport and in a lot of ways still is.”
Madden has made an outsized contribution to our obsession with professional football. Visual broadcast features we now take for granted—the ever-illuminated first-down line on TV screens, use of the telestrator to illustrate the movement of plays — came to the fore because of his enthusiasm.
The film goes deep on Madden’s life and broadcasting career, decades of which were spent alongside Pat Summerall in the booth. The Hall of Famer would joyously shout “Boom!” and “Doink!” when the play demanded it, but he also pitched products with the best of them, not to mention plugging his personal favorites, such as his beloved Thanksgiving Day “turducken.”
Madden gloried in players who toiled with guts and grit, and most poignant in the show are comments from current and former NFL stars such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Lawrence Taylor. Of the 38 various interviewees, “We did not get a single no,” notes Rinaldi’s codirector, Joel Santos.
Madden himself, 85, sits down too. What comes across is a picture of a very real man; being singled out by him was as valued by athletes and coaches as getting invited to Johnny Carson’s couch was to comedians. Says Santos: “There’s no one that has had more of an impact on the NFL than John Madden.”
All Madden, Documentary Premiere, Saturday, December 25, 2/1c, Fox