With the recent retirement of longtime NFL broadcaster John Madden, Ravens Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne took time to reflect on Madden's career and the last time Madden came to Ravens headquarters.
Above everything else, John Madden is a coach and teacher. Whenever we had the chance to spend time with him, we were all impressed. He took his job seriously as a TV analyst, but for many of us, he's Coach Madden.
For those who only know Madden for his video game, TV work, or his advertisements, he is also the Pro Football Hall of Fame Super Bowl winning coach. He loves talking football, and he has great respect for coaches and players.
When Madden and the NBC-TV crew were here for last season's game against the Redskins, the two Johns – Madden and Harbaugh – were like two mad scientists, but they were delighting in talking football and not something like stem cells. "What a great guy! It's like sitting with the history of the game," was what Harbaugh said after meeting with Coach Madden.
At the end of the day, Madden told me 2 things I remember well. He said something like: "You have the right guy. You'll win with him," in a reference to Coach Harbaugh. And Madden also said: "I never saw a quarterback do what your rookie just did in practice. The ball didn't hit the ground. What an arm, and he's as accurate as I have seen in a practice." John was, of course, referring to Joe Flacco.
FAVORITE MADDEN STORY
Most of you know Madden does not fly. He travels on the famous "Madden Cruiser," a big customized bus, to all the games. About 15 years ago, he was excitedly talking about a new addition to the bus: "You're not going to believe this. They have given me this laptop computer. I can be in Tulsa, Oklahoma and read The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Dallas Morning News – any paper I want, just like that.
"We don't stop at truck stops now picking up boxes of old papers and clips you guys or the network sent me. This is unbelievable," Madden said with great enthusiasm.
(I didn't want to tell him that he could have been doing this for years.)
After John was finished explaining what he had discovered, I said: "Does that mean you don't read newspapers anymore?"
Without hesitation, he said: "Oh no, you have to have a newspaper when you go to the bathroom."
Gonna miss that guy.
Kevin Byrne is the Ravens' Senior Vice President – Public and Community Relations. He has worked in the NFL since 1977, when he was the then-youngest public relations director in the league (for the then-St. Louis Cardinals), except for the two years he was the Director of Public Affairs for TWA (Trans World Airlines). He has been with the Ravens since they began, and before that was a vice president with the Cleveland Browns. He has won a Super Bowl ring with the 2000 Ravens and an NCAA basketball championship with Al McGuire's Marquette team in '77. He was on the losing end of historic games known for the "Drive" and the "Fumble." He has worked closely and is friends with some of the best in the game: Ozzie Newsome, Brian Billick, Ray Lewis, Bill Cowher, Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, Marty Schottenheimer and Shannon Sharpe to name a few.