John Madden reportedly watched the Christmas Day documentary on his life, at home with family. Enjoyed it, and appreciated that so many people thought so highly of him. The Hall of Fame football coach, color commentator and video game headliner died three days later. Epilogs came fast, furious and universally glowing about the life and impact of this man.
While John Madden was well past being ‘that guy,’ he was a great example of people who don’t come along very often. Multifaceted cultural icons who, for our purposes, had their roots in sports, one of life’s great character builders. Individuals almost beyond reproach. Whose lives are not defined by their number of followers.
So, who else do we have?
I took the question to my PYP, Panel of Younger People – which includes everyone, by the way. It made for a great little debate. Reasonable cases were presented for Terry Bradshaw, Derek Jeter, Charles Barkley, LeBron James, and Michael Strahan, who lost points for working with Kelly Ripa.
The winner by proclamation, was Peyton Manning.
Hall of Fame quarterback, cultural icon. Who remains relevant through the ESPN Monday Night Football “Manning Cast”. A guy who has somehow managed to be something to everyone. Peyton and the Manning family are said to be on the path to ownership of an NFL team. Put that on the resume and you really have something. The point is, as we continue our journey through time, there’s always a line of succession. They say you don’t replace a guy like John Madden. The fact is, we already have.
Bill Pucko has spent over three decades as a broadcast journalist working in television, radio and print. He was the featured sportscaster on Rochester’s YYN and WHEC-TV, awarded the Rochester Press and Radio Club’s Sportscaster of the Year Award three times and inducted onto the Frontier Field Walk of Fame in 2006.
Bill is a co-founder of Classy Wolf Media, a television and video production company currently syndicating two weekly sports programs, The High School Sports Beat and The Press Box, on WHAM-TV and FOX Rochester.
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