We’ve spent plenty of time this week thinking and talking about the best way for the NFL to create a permanent tribute to John Madden. Yes, his name will appear on the official NFL video game for as long as the NFL exists. But that’s something he earned. It’s incumbent on the league to bestow on John Madden an honor that properly reflects his unparalleled influence on the game and those who love it.
So here’s a list of possibilities, as inspired by various discussions with PFT contributors and, in some cases, reader input.
The All-Madden Team.
Many have made the obvious possibility of renaming the All-Pro team the All-Madden team. On the surface, it makes sense. At a deeper level, it doesn’t.
John Madden had an All-Madden team, one that was based on a different viewpoint and appreciation of player talents. Would that be the guiding light for the crafting of an official All-Madden team? If not, it’s not the answer. If so, the challenge then becomes finding the right people to vote on the prize, people with the same sensibility and perspective as Madden. There simply aren’t many who fall into that category.
Even if that’s what happens, calling the All-Pro team the All-Madden team doesn’t feel big enough. There would need to be something more.
The John Madden Coach of the Year.
This has become another common suggestion. But it doesn’t fit Madden’s overall career, which swept so much more broadly. He coached for only 10 years, winning only one Super Bowl. Frankly, if the coach of the year award is going to be named after anyone, it needs to be named after Bill Belichick.
The John Madden MVP Award.
If any award will be named after John Madden, it’s this one. The NFL MVP award. The biggest individual prize that reflects on-field excellence and performance.
The John Madden Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The powers-that-be have been looking for a way to generate more interest in what basically is a museum. Changing the name of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to the John Madden Pro Football Hall of Fame would do it, immediately. And then the challenge would be to reimagine everything about the Hall of Fame based on the things John Madden said and believed about the game.
The John Madden Super Bowl.
This was the first thing that popped into my brain when trying to think of a proper tribute for John Madden. Name the sport’s biggest and best game after it’s biggest and best personality. It probably won’t ever happen. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.
John Madden in the NFL logo.
Some readers have suggested a reshaping of The Shield to include John Madden, in some way. Whether reshaping The Shield based on his silhouette or working his likeness into it. Whatever it may be, there has to be a way to weave the man who has been such an important part of the fabric of the game directly into the fabric of The Shield.
“John Madden 345.”
This is an easy one, even if it’s not nearly big enough. Change the name of the league office, widely known as 345 Park Avenue, to Madden 345.
The Oakland All-Maddens.
Here’s my favorite idea, one that a reader recently suggested. With expansion possibly on the horizon as the NFL looks to increase inventory for gambling purposes, why not put a team back in Oakland and name it after John Madden?
The obvious name would be the Oakland Maddens. The better name, in my view, would be the Oakland All-Maddens.
Yes, the NFL would have to find a buyer and a stadium. Then again, there’s already an NFL-ready stadium located closer to Oakland than San Francisco. The Raiders didn’t move their because the 49ers and Raiders don’t get along. Maybe putting a new team named for Madden in that stadium would avoid such issues.
There may be other ideas. Many may be better than the ideas listed above. Regardless, the NFL eventually needs to find a way — a big way and the right way — to honor the man who has meant more to the game of football since the first time someone pumped air into an oblong ball and started running around with it.