Letters to Sports: John Madden is gone, but he will never be forgotten

John Madden practices with a Telestrator.
John Madden, shown practicing with a Telestrator in January 1982, has been remembered as a great coach, commentator and innovator, but L.A. Times readers recall the humble, caring, gentle-giant of a man.
(Associated Press)

Einstein famously said “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” John Madden was the living embodiment of that quotation. Often imitated, never duplicated, Madden had an uncanny ability to dumb down the game of football and all its nuances. I frequently mute the audio on today’s football telecasts. When Madden was the color man, I frequently tuned into games just to hear his commentary. RIP, John. We will miss you, but never forget you!

Mark Roth
Los Angeles



It will be hard to imagine the world of football without John Madden. Boom!

Patrick Kelley
Los Angeles


There has never been a person more a part of your life and never physically in your life. John Madden was the man.

Paul Bacon
Hallandale Beach, Fla.


Everyone loved Madden. Except me.

After he got out of coaching, Madden became very wealthy with his football board and video games. The keys were to say BOOM! when there was a good hard tackle, and the opponent went flying before landing on the dirt, dazed and confused.


Result: Untold amounts of brain damage, among young football players and gamers.

Mike Roddy


I attended San Diego State when John Madden was our football defensive coach under Don Coryell. One time he had to sub for the teacher/coach of our badminton class. He kept us in stitches the whole hour with jokes and funny stories. I’ve never met a kinder, funnier, gentle giant than John Madden. My memories of that class are as clear and wonderful as ever. Rest in peace, John. I will always treasure the time you spent with us.

Randall Bosley
Los Angeles


In 1972, while waiting on the first tee of the Boulder Creek Golf and Country Club, our group was joined by Raiders coach John Madden. As sports fans, we were aware of his stature as a coach, but not aware of his warm and generous personality. Over the next two-plus hours, Madden demonstrated most of the qualities mentioned in Sam Farmer’s pieces, particularly his almost boyish sense of humor and self-effacing manner. It was quite chilly that day, and on the third hole Madden withdrew a bottle of apricot brandy from his golf bag and at his invitation we all shared its warmth as the round progressed. The golf that day was unremarkable, a far cry from the experience of simply being with Coach Madden.

Noel Johnson

Bosa’s absence

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa’s absence from the lineup Sunday against the Texans and/or his reportedly unvaccinated status may (or not) have mattered or continue to matter. A separate section of The Times, I believe, recently featured Bosa’s purchase of a nice property in Florida, where the weather perhaps compares, taxes are definitely lower and the population is apparently more anti-vax friendly. Seeing, however, as how he’s playing for a California team, maybe someone should tell him the best way to demonstrate overcoming a concussion by an NFL player is by getting a booster, or vaccinated.

Konrad Moore
Pacific Beach

Bruins blunder

UCLA football coach Chip Kelly speaks on “protecting the ecosystem.” Does that include NOT going to Sea World and touring a Navy aircraft carrier? In contrast, Alabama is participating in zero bowl activities. I’m guessing the UCLA team, coaches, students, alumni and administrators would’ve preferred playing the Holiday Bowl game over “bowl activities.” Hindsight is 20/20, but now we’ll never know if DTR might’ve gone 20 for 20. …

Thomas Ritz


We read that UCLA did extracurricular activities during the week such as going to Sea World and touring the naval ship in San Diego, etc. Maybe if they quarantined a couple of days before to be able to play the game, the players wouldn’t have been infected with COVID. I’m sure this has caused many, many people thousands of dollars who traveled to see the game.

Steve Shaevel
Woodland Hills


Somewhat buried in the article about the anguish regarding UCLA’s nonparticipation in the Holiday Bowl, Chip Kelly mentions “the unvaccinated players.” How does a reasonable athletic department allow for unvaccinated personnel and expect any result other than this?

Tim McNamara


As a proud Bruin, I don’t feel that much pride in the way UCLA decided not to participate in the Holiday Bowl. I’d rather be embarrassed on the field than off.

Homer Alba


UCLA has 125 players on its football roster. Are we to understand that the Bruins could not field a team to play against North Carolina State just because a few of their defensive starters could not play? Maybe it wouldn’t have been as competitive, but UCLA certainly had an obligation to the opposing team, the fans who traveled long ways to see the game, the promoters of the game, and the community to do its best to field a team and play the game. What UCLA did was shameful.

Tony Medley
Los Angeles


Ironic that the Midwest and South schools got their coronavirus acts together, yet the darlings of Westwood called in sick on the day of the big test.

Mario Valvo


I was disappointed that my alma mater was not allowed to play in the Holiday Bowl, but I am pleased that the health of the players was the most important concern. I think that the North Carolina State coach and players failed to accept reality.

Sol Bialeck
Van Nuys

Lakers mismanagement

Problem with the Lakers is management allowed LeBron James to play GM. We got rid of four players who played defense but couldn’t make wide open threes for four players who can’t play defense and still can’t consistently make open threes.

Russell Hosaka


As both James and Russell Westbrook need the ball in their hands, maybe the most efficient use of these two stars is to have James run the starters and Westbrook come off the bench to lead the bench with his hyper energy.

Ron Wolotzky
Los Angeles

Plaschke plaudits

I’ve read many of Bill Plaschke’s articles through the years as an avid L.A. sports fan. Bill’s open love letter to his mom and No. 1 fan, Mary Plaschke, really hit home. Mary’s selfless ways and upbeat attitude reminded me of my mom, who passed in June of this year. I intend to read Bill’s book “Paradise Found” with greater appreciation, knowing the influence behind it. Bill — thanks for the simple but lasting reminder of what the holidays are truly about.

Mike Chiu
Mission Viejo


Bill’s greatest column ever. Mary Plaschke was a lucky lady to have a great lifelong relationship with her devoted son. I weep for the many people in today’s world who are not fortunate enough to have the same.

Joann Duray
Playa del Rey

Whitworth it

Sam Farmer continually comes up with very clever and creative columns. The text from Andrew Whitworth about his experience watching the Rams-Vikings game from his home was another one.

Bill Francis


Can Andrew Whitworth write a column every day for The Times?

Jim Fredrick
Manhattan Beach

Timeout, NBA

Whenever I … timeout … watch an … timeout … NBA game on TV … timeout … I rarely see much of … timeout … the game because … timeout … of … timeout … all the …

Brad Nelson


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