The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Much More Than Xs and Os

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John Madden is a Hall of Fame coach, a pioneering color analyst and the reason why we football fans know the finer points of the Cover-2 and the West Coast offense. The NFL could not have become the most profitable sports league in America without Madden; he was as much a part of the game as the players, coaches and fans.

Yet Madden matters for so many other reasons. There are any number of color analysts these days who can break down game film, but Madden did it with a style and enthusiasm unmatched in the industry. He was a true personality, and that made him a natural for his memorable television commercials and iconic video game.

The Miller Lite beer ads during the 1980s were so successful in large part because of Madden. His persona as the crazy coach on the sideline bellowing at officials translated perfectly to the small screen. Who could forget him popping out of the Miller Lite logo, trying to get in some last words before the commercial ended?

Madden was great at moving products other than beer. Remember his Tinactin ads? "Boom!" was his famous catchphrase as a football analyst, but Tinactin brilliantly used it to sell foot spray. He also was a pitchman for Ace hardware.

His larger-than-life personality was an ideal match for his Madden video game too. His voiceovers were the highlight of the early games in the late 1980s for Sega Genesis, and as the games and consoles became more sophisticated, it was as if Madden were sitting next to us as we manipulated the controllers.

The Madden Jinx has become part of the football vernacular thanks to his video game, and the product has become so popular that gamers wait in absurdly long lines to be among the first to own the newest edition.

As Madden proclaimed in another famous Miller Lite spot: "Now wait a minute. I'm the most popular guy here."

Who could argue with him?

By Gene Wang  |  April 17, 2009; 3:27 AM ET  | Category:  Gene Wang , NFL , Oakland Raiders Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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