Bud Grant and John Madden met in the Super Bowl, forty-five years ago. With Madden passing on Tuesday, Grant reflected on his former rival.
“Coaches come in a variety of forms,” Grant, 94, said in a statement issued by the Vikings. “John really, really liked football. For him it wasn’t about the attention. He would sit down and talk football to anyone. That made him a great coach and a great commentator after his coaching career was over. John was a great ambassador for the game of football and will be missed.”
Grant and Madden had two very different styles. Grant, stoic and restrained and quiet and calm. Madden, big and loud and gregarious and animated.
Madden was one of a kind as a coach. He looked different than the others. He dressed different than the others. He spoke different than the others. And he won unlike any of the others, generating a ridiculously high winning percentage of 76.3 percent.
He coached the Raiders for only 10 years. He retired at age 42, making it clear that he would never do it again. Unfortunately, he was true to his word. Fortunately, he found a bigger and broader platform, instantly becoming one of the greatest broadcasters in TV history. It became immediately clear that Madden was different. That he was special. That he made the came more inclusive, accessible, and fun for everyone who watched it.
There’s never been another one like him. There possibly never will be another one like him. For as long as football is played, however many decades or centuries it lasts as a sport and/or we last as a people, there quite possibly will never be another John Madden.