If you’re a sports fan, read this.
Madden, who became head coach of the Oakland Raiders at 33 and retired from the team at 43 with the best winning percentage in N.F.L. history, is a genius masquerading as a meathead. From his perch in the back of the booth, Madden can see what all 22 players are doing on every play, and he has an ex-teacher’s ability to make sense of the mayhem. But his far more crucial TV talent is as a populist. When it comes to making the average citizen feel a little better about himself, he’s as good as Oprah. Somehow in the course of a football game, Madden lets you know it’s O.K. to be fat, even borderline obese, no big deal to be ugly, bearable to be lonely. Madden’s every unslick flailing gesture and blurted syllable is a source of comfort to the unsexy, unripped, underpaid and underappreciated lonely American man.
I’ve never heard someone describe Madden’s ridiculous babbling with so much love. Aside from his funeral, I doubt we’ll ever hear a eulogy like this again.