Five Questions for
John Madden

by Andrew Marchand, New York Post

Recently, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand spoke with NBC’s John Madden. Madden, 70, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.

Q: When you did your first game in 1979, your CBS partner was Bob Costas. How long did you think you would be in broadcasting?

A: A week. It was terrible. That first game with Costas was a practice game. I didn’t know anything about broadcasting, but they had a seminar and I thought, ‘I’ll go out there and they’ll teach me how to be a broadcaster.’ I went there and all they talked about was expense reports and how to fill out an expense report. I thought, ‘Hell, I don’t know any more about broadcasting now when I’m leaving then when I came.’

Q: So what did you do?

A: I came up with this idea- and now people do it- I want to do a practice game into a tape just to see how you do it. It was in the L.A. Coliseum, the 49ers against the Rams. We did the game into the tape. I got the tape, I watched it and it was terrible. I thought, ‘Shoot, this isn’t for me,’ but I had a real game the next week. I learned from that tape.

Q: Your bus is legendary, but where does your fear of flying come from?

A: It is not a fear of flying. It is claustrophobia. When I coached, I flew all the time. I would get in there. They would shut the door and I would feel that I have to get out. And then have a panic attack. It happened three times, and on the third time, I said , ‘This is it. If I Get down from this one, I’m never going to get on another airplane the rest of my life,’ which I didn’t.

Q: You are a pitchman for a variety of products. What is the one product you said, ‘I can’t do that. It is too out there?’

A: I have a whole bunch. I have a lot more like that than not. It looks like I do everything. I probably take one out of 20.

Q: Before this season, you signed a six-year deal with NBC. Do you think you will retire after this contract?

A: I’m a big believer that when you say that you are going to retire or you are going to quit, you have already quit or retired, so I’m never going to say that. When I got out of coaching, I just did it. I just coached and then shortly thereafter I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore, so I never coached again. I think the same thing will happen in broadcasting. I’m not going to say that I’m going to do this, this many more years. Just one day, I’m going to say, ‘That is enough,’ and I’m not going to come back.