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John Madden’s observations on new NFL season

August 23, 2011

The pigskin is back in play as NFL teams gear-up for another hard-hitting season.

As always, NFL coaching and broadcasting legend John Madden, a frequent Rose Hotel visitor, is making many informed observations during his regular appearances on KCBS radio (740 AM / 106.9 FM) in San Francisco.

John Madden
John Madden

Here is a compilation of some of Madden’s recent thoughts he presented on KCBS.

Commenting the on the canceled off-season training camps (because of the recently resolved NFL labor dispute and lockout), Madden says some teams might give their veterans more pre-season playing time than usual to get them ready for the regular season.

Talk in Los Angeles about the possibility of a downtown football stadium and a return of an NFL team to the City of Angels prompted this response from Madden: “Haven’t we gone through this for about 40 years? We all agree on one thing, that when there is a stadium there, there’s going to be a team there… I really think when they get a stadium, they’re going to get two teams.”

The problem, he said, is that so far Los Angeles stadium plans have gone nowhere.

The announcement that six-time Pro Bowl receiver Randy Moss is going to retire didn’t convince Madden that the fleet, controversial receiver would be missing from the gridiron this season.

“It’s possible a team might try to talk Moss back onto the field,” he said. “His whole thing was about speed. If he lost that, then I don’t think he would want to play, and I don’t think anyone would want him.”

Despite the wide receiver’s often loutish behavior, the former Raiders coach said Moss has always been one of his favorite players.

While acknowledging Moss’s greatness, Madden drew a sharp distinction between him and the man he considers the game’s greatest receiver.

“I don’t know that there’s any other Jerry Rice,” he said. “I think you have Jerry Rice at the top, and then I think you have a little gap, and then you start talking about some others. And when you start talking about some others, I think one of them is Randy Moss.”

Madden has also paid a great deal of attention to the furious round of free-agency contracts signed around the league, among them former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco who inked a deal with the New England Patriots. Asked if Ochocinco will be a big contributor to the Patriots mighty offense, Madden said: “If he’s not, he’ll be out of there quickly. Bill Belichick has a program there and his thing is all about team, and you either fit in or you get out. [But] if you’re a guy like Chad Ochocinco and you’re a receiver and you want to catch the ball, going to the Patriots with Tom Brady is not a bad place to go.”

Madden also said he likes the 49ers acquisition of placekicker David Akers to replace the retiring Joe Nedney.

“Both of those guys were real pros, real team guys… That was a good move. David Akers is a heck of a kicker,” he said.

Then there’s the 49ers quarterback position, which Madden says appears to be going to Alex Smith again this season, in part because draft choice Colin Kaepernick isn’t ready for the starting role.

Smith had his problems last season, which led some people to believe the 49ers would try to sign free-agent quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck or Carson Palmer.

“You don’t know that they didn’t,” the former coach said. “I would bet that one way or another that they did go after someone else.”

Turning his sights on his former team, Madden discussed the loss of Raiders tight-end Zach Miller, who signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Madden sees Miller’s departure as a big loss for the Raiders because he was a safety value for the team’s quarterbacks during the past four seasons.

“He was the go-to guy,” said Madden. “I was really surprised when Miller left.”

Madden recently attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring new inductees Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Marshall Faulk and NFL films founder Ed Sabol.

“They are in the Hall of Fame, they are in forever, and when the lights go out, the busts do talk to each other,” Madden said.

One of those new busts belongs to one-time 49er Deion Sanders.

“He was a great football player… He really played, if there’s such a thing, three ways,” Madden said, pointing to Sanders’ work as a defensive back, receiver and kick returner. “He could get you on defense and once in a while on offense, and there was always a chance he could get you on special teams… He was playing major league baseball and football at the same time. I mean, how the heck do you do that?”