SI Vault
Michael Silver
July 29, 2002
John Madden (BAM!) is comming (BOOM!) to Monday Night Football (POW!), and he's got a plan (OUCH!) to save ABC's bacon
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July 29, 2002

Monday Evening Quarterback

John Madden (BAM!) is comming (BOOM!) to Monday Night Football (POW!), and he's got a plan (OUCH!) to save ABC's bacon

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SI: I'm guessing there's no fitness center on the bus.

JM: Yeah, that's tough. I tried to get a treadmill on the bus, but it didn't fit. For me, it has to be an industrial-sized treadmill. It can't be some little thing you buy at Wal-Mart. So what I do is, when we stop for fuel, it usually takes about a half hour, and I just start walking away from the main road and then turn around and walk back.

SI: Where were you on September 11?

JM: Our opening game was St. Louis at Philadelphia, on Sunday the ninth, and that night I came back and stayed at my apartment in New York. So I was there that Tuesday morning. And being there just makes that whole thing indelible. After the second plane hit, I walked out to get a newspaper, and the streets were empty. There was an older lady standing by the newsstand, and she said, "This is the end of the world."

On the second day people were talking about, "Are they going to play this weekend?" I said, "There's no way. We're at war." I stayed in New York until they decided to cancel the games—we were supposed to do Green Bay at New York—and then our next game was in San Francisco, so I could head home. Someone from International Management Group, which represents me, called to tell me that another one of their clients, Peggy Fleming, was stranded in Pennsylvania. Peggy's from the Bay Area too, and there were no flights, so they arranged for me to pick up Peggy, and she drove with us across the country. It was wild. I remember we stopped at this little store in Omaha to buy some flags for the bus. The guy couldn't believe that Peggy Fleming and John Madden had just walked in. He said, "Just do me one favor: As you leave town, just drive by in the bus and honk at me." As we came across the country, you could just feel the country coming together and the patriotism.

SI: You're 66, past mandatory retirement age in some states, but I imagine you're raring to go out and kick butt in your new job. Have you given any thought to how long this can go?

JM: I think forever. As long as I can. It's fun, and it is my life and my passion and my recreation—it's everything. I was at a golf tournament, and I met a guy who was a year behind me in high school, and he's retiring. I said, "Let me get this straight: You're retiring, and I just signed a four-year contract. One of us is going in the wrong direction."

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