While Madden is checking in at the Hyatt Regency, someone on an upper balcony shouts, "Hey, Miller Lite!" Without looking up, Madden startles the receptionist by bellowing back, "Everything you've always wanted in a beer and less!" Then he sprawls out on a nearby sofa for an hour or so of "lobbying," watching the flow of guests with the discerning eye of a house dick. Inspired, he jumps up and does an elaborate imitation of the "suit types" rushing to make their planes, muttering "What time's your flight?" and "Had your Bloody Mary yet?"
All the Madden moves are in evidence: the point, a wagging, accusatory jab; the touchdown, a rapid pumping of both hands overhead; the explosion, a smashing of right fist into left palm; the boogie, a series of uppercuts with fingers wiggling and hips swaying; and the double sweep, a backward swing with both arms that has been known to fell potted palms and an occasional passerby. Madden pleads, "I'm just an emotional guy who likes to talk with his hands, that's all."
Later, while discussing the intricacies of third-down-and-short situations in a Polynesian restaurant, Madden is on his feet again, inadvertently swatting the Chinese lanterns hanging overhead. "When you see an official jump into a pileup and he's doing this," he says, flapping his arms like an enraged stork, "it means I don't know what happened.' That's when another guy in a striped shirt runs out to spot the ball. If he does it with his left foot, you miss the first down by inches. If he uses his right, you make it. It's the left-footers that give you ulcers."
Looking on, CBS producer Jim Silman says admiringly, "John has added a new dimension to broadcasting. He bridges the gap between the too-technical and the too-entertaining."
Madden's play-by-play partner, Gary Bender, allows that he half believes Madden's theory that every man is born to wear a certain number. "Take Art Still, the Chiefs' defensive end," Madden says. "He's too tall to be a 67. Put an 83 on him and he'll be All-Pro. I'm a 74, slow but dedicated."
Madden and Bender spend the rest of the afternoon watching a Chiefs workout, interviewing coaches and studying films. Then, after persuading Art Still to put in for a new number, Madden roams Arrowhead Stadium for impressions he can weave into his game commentary. "These locker rooms are too pretty," he decrees. "They need some dirty socks and old jocks thrown around. Guys get in here and they don't want to go out on the field. Don't laugh. The Chiefs used to be tough in their old run-down stadium. Then they moved here in 1972 and haven't been in the playoffs since."
One of the players huddling around Madden says that the Raiders have the worst visitors' locker room in the league. "Yeah, we planned it that way," Madden says. "Once, when they hired some exterminators for the rats that live in there, I told them, 'Don't get rid of 'em, feed 'em.' Then I tell Hank Stram not to worry about the rats, which he will, of course.
"What's this?" Madden says, kicking a box of Hershey bars the Lions have ordered for halftime. "Hell, all we used to do was smoke and drink coffee. And when we heard Biletnikoff throwing up, we knew it was time to go out on the field again."
Gesturing at the "motivational slogans" on the walls, Madden adds, "I never believed in pep talks. Once, though, in desperation, I invented an inspirational saying that made absolutely no sense—'Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load up the wagon'—and the amazing thing was that John Matuszak understood it."
SUNDAY: Madden arrives at the stadium three hours before kickoff. Passing a cheerleader, he says, "They're taking over the game. They've got locker rooms, draft choices and everything. Mary Sue there most probably went in the first round. Good hands."