It was Thanksgiving Eve in 2016 when John Madden grabbed a microphone and took a seat in the festive lobby at Rose Hotel in Pleasanton.
He’d never done a podcast, didn’t know what the heck they were, but he was game for it, especially because it was Thanksgiving time.
My opening line: “Any time I think of Thanksgiving, I think of you.”
Next thing you know, boom, we were talking about six-legged turkeys, the kind Madden would award after the 20 Thanksgiving games he called as an NFL broadcaster — and as the sport’s maître d’.
“Six-legged turkey, yeah,” Madden responded. “You didn’t know how many valuable players you were going to have in a game or how many turkey legs you wanted to give away for the top players, so you had to put a lot of legs on there.
“Sometimes you’d get in a bind with just having two (legs) and you wanted to give the legs to the offensive line.”
The NFL’s Thanksgiving Day tripleheader will honor Madden, who passed away on Dec. 28 at age 85. Tributes will accompany all three broadcasts — Bills-Lions, 9:30 a.m., CBS; Giants-Cowboys, 1:30 p.m., FOX; and, Patriot- Vikings, 5:20 p.m.; NBC — as well as on the NFL Network’s GameDay Morning show.
The NFL calls it the “inaugural John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration,” and it comes complete with an image of Madden on the 25-yard lines and on helmet stickers.
The NFL’s inaugural John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration will include this image of the former Raiders’ coach and television broadcaster. The image will be on the 25-yard line on the fields of Thursday’s three games, and a sticker of the image will adorn players’ helmets. (Image courtesy of NFL)
Madden would appreciate the gesture in his humble nature that served him so well, from his Pro Football Hall of Fame coaching decade with the Raiders, to his Emmy-winning television days in which he shared his Thanksgiving not only with viewers, but broadcast crews and, of course, players and coaches.
Now, he might think a day-long, three-game celebration is overkill for “a doofus from Daly City.” (His words.)
“Yep, part of him would say it’s cool, and part of him would say it’s ridiculous,” Pete Abitante, the NFL’s vice president of special projects, said by phone this week. “He was an everyday guy, and he was a fan.”
Mike Madden, John’s oldest son, concurred and said: “I think it’s great. Dad and the NFL were synonymous. Dad and Thanksgiving were synonymous. It’s a natural thing.”
When Madden passed away, Abitante and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell searched how best to honor Madden, who became a special adviser to the commissioner upon retiring from broadcasting in 2009. Coaches, players, broadcast executives and NFL staff were tapped for suggestions, which ranged from naming the NFL coach of the year award after him to putting a team back in Oakland and naming it the “Maddens.”
“John encompassed so much, as a coach, a teacher, a broadcaster, (video) games, and philanthropy,” Abitante said. “Thanksgiving was his favorite …read more
Source:: The Mercury News