Bumping into an NFL legend


Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2006
Reaction score
Bumping into an NFL legend

Tuesday, May 09, 2006 - Times Sports Editor

Between the NFL draft and swirling controversies about Denver's Ashley Lelie suggesting he may sit out a season, I've realized football is never out of season because stories like these always get headlines.

It also reaffirms just how interesting conversations with pro athletes can be, especially when it's a childhood hero...

"Did you ever consider a Sumo wrestling career? You lost how many playoff games to the Pittsburgh Steelers? Did you ever secretly go double-dating with the Denver Broncos' "Barrel Man"? Who styles your hair? Do you even comb your hair? Are there any other TV jobs available for well-rounded, football-obsessed blithering media geeks?"

Those were just a few questions racing through my mind as I sped (only about 60 MPH) through another lovely rural mountain town. Forget the silly stop signs. Forget the one stop light or occasional frightened child. I've always admired the friendliness of local residents, but there was no time to exchange all those "You're No. 1" signs being flashed in my direction.

Nothing was stopping me from meeting NFL coaching legend, video-game guru and my personal fitness role model....the great Mr. John Madden.

Believe it or not, Big John almost didn't get the pleasure of meeting me. It was just another typical Tuesday morning at the old nuthou...uhh, newspaper.

News reporters were pursuing hard-hitting stories and trading insults. Editors created wonderful eye-catching page designs while muttering about something called a deadline.

Meanwhile, I was stuck on some silly transitional phrase and wondering whether anyone brought doughnuts. My "concentration" was suddenly broken by one of those annoying ringing telephones.

"Hey, honey!!" the managing editor said to either his wife or some female fan. "What?! He's really here? I guess that's worth checking out."

Great. The local beer-truck driver had accepted an offer to replace me. Oh well, I already most of my stolen pens and survival food (synonym for extra Twinkies) packed in a spare box. Time to head for the door...

"Hey, Headcheese (another professional name), someone spotted the Madden Cruiser in the Arby's parking lot. So get out of here."

While hustling/stumbling into this familiar food haven, I expected to see a large crowd hovering around the infamous former Oakland Raiders coach.

Instead, there was only a small group of rather large men -- including one super-sized fellow sitting alone in his own personal booth. This scruffy individual slumped over something resembling a chicken sandwich as I can identify almost any food within 100 meters.

No Super Bowl rings or Fox-TV apparel were on display. Yet I instantly recognized this companion of most good weekend couch potatoes...

"Uhhhh, Mr. Madden? I'm from the local newspaper. I'd like to take your photo. I'll try not to bother you too much."

I politely crouched...whoops, lost my balance. I politely TRIED to crouch in front of this TV celebrity to take a handsome profile shot...

"HEY!!! WHAT THE HE....(synonym for coach Barnett's last three games at CU)!!

The legend known as Madden had suddenly looked up to reveal a very irritated face. Kind of like the Raiders logo without an eyepatch.

However, my dog-eat-dog journalistic attitude allowed me to still try and take that picture...

"HEY!!! What do you think you're doing!?!"

Chicken particles and other unsavory items were nearly dribbling from Big John's mouth. The other large men quietly chuckled, especially when his next line stung worse than a loose hot meatball that bounces off your bare belly...

"You come over here and bother me! Then you say you aren't going to bother me! Then you START BOTHERING ME AGAIN!!"

I promptly retaliated with several seconds of impressive, word-free brainlock. My only thoughts were "Wow, I finally meet one of my favorite people from the world's all-time greatest game..and now he's going to drop-kick me like the 1960s Denver Broncos."

At that moment, the Emmy award-winning broadcaster must have realized I was crumbling faster than Ricky Williams' fantasy league value. He almost smiled and mumbled something like "at least sit down here and let me finish eating."

I offered another blank stare as Madden removed the top bun from his sandwich and plopped it on a tray.

Could once-in-a-lifetime meetings get any better than this?

Finally, after noting my disturbing fixation on half-eaten meals, Big John decided it was time to strike up some semblance of a conversation.

We began discussing a variety of topics from football to last week's football action to movies about football to whether I excelled at football (yow, had he been drinking something other than Mr. Pibb?).

However, the ice was broken and I even became brave enough to mention how his despicable Raiders had mutilated my beloved Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.

It turned me into one bawling, blabbering idiot -- a process which (of course) has never been repeated during these past 30 years of Viqueen fandom.

"You should have started crying in the second quarter," a totally unsympathetic Madden remarked. "Your guys never had a chance against us."

Come on, 32-14 was one of the Vikings' closest Super Bowls ever.

Anyhoo, I offered a few nervous giggles and calmly devoured two of his curly fries. Moments later, the now friendly Madden provided a brief tour of his famous Madden Cruiser. Big-screen TV, full-sized kitchen, satellite technology to pick up any football telecast....not a bad way to travel!

Finally -- as our quality time drew to a conclusion -- I offered some emotional farewells like "ride safely, buddy, and I'll see you when I'm covering the NFL someday."

Long awkward pause.

"Yeah, right...sure, good luck."

This thread has been closed due to inactivity. You can create a new thread to discuss this topic.