I remember the days back when I hated John Madden. I was a Kansas City Chiefs' fan and we had the dashing Hank Stram reigning over our sidelines and the Oakland Raiders, our sworn enemies, had the beer-gutted, wrinkle-shirted, disheveled John Madden storming up and down their sidelines, waving a rolled-up play-sheet in his fist as he screamed at refs, screamed at players and screamed at fans. Those old Chiefs/Raiders games were pure magic, a great rivalry that went on for years.
Then Madden retired and he became the voice of the game. I still hated him, but over the years that changed. I don't know if I mellowed or he did, but I began to listen to him and his big Bubba enthusiasm for the game was a contagious thing. Eventually, it seemed a game almost wasn't a game if Madden wasn't the guy in the booth sharing his insight. He loved big defensive guys who made big, hard plays and he made you love them too. He hated cheap shots and overpaid prima-donnas, but he also appreciated the high-paid stars. He's been slowing down a bit over the years, but he could still deliver the magic, like at this year's Super Bowl.
Me, I'll miss the guy.