John Madden 'a big fan' of video game cover boy Calvin Johnson
|John Madden 'a big fan' of video game cover boy Calvin Johnson|
By Carlos Monarrez
Detroit Free Press Sports Writer
Like an old general touring the battlefield, John Madden slowly walked the grounds of the Lions' practice facility.
Madden is a consultant for the NFL, and he joined commissioner Roger Goodell in Allen Park on Thursday. He greeted the Ford family and the Lions' brass. He signed autographs and waved at anyone who called his name.
The man who once cast a giant shadow over football, whose very name evokes the NFL and whose eponymous video game has stoked football's popularity around the globe for more than two decades, preferred to remain in the shadows on this day.
Madden, 76, spoke so softly and sat so quietly in a golf cart by the edge of the field that most players, intent on practice, had no idea of his presence.
"Didn't know he was here, actually," receiver Calvin Johnson said. "I just come here to work. That's cool, though. Eventually I'm sure I'll talk to him."
Madden was hoping for more than a chat with the player who graces the cover of his video game this year.
"I'm going to try to get a picture or something with him here today," he said. "I'm a fan. I'm a fan of his."
That much was clear. Madden also called Johnson "one of the greats" and promised Johnson immunity from his infamous video-game jinx.
"I was on the cover for 15 years and never had a problem," Madden said. "Never pulled a hamstring, never had an Achilles, never had a concussion. So I don't think anything about it. Every player in the NFL's going to get something, so when they get a little something they give (attribute it) to that."
So Johnson's safe?
"He's safe, yeah," Madden said. "He's too good to be safe. He's a great player."
Johnson, 26, was born seven years after Madden left coaching, but he still has an appreciation for him.
"I was too young, but I know he was a great coach, and he has a great game as well," he said. "Like I said, I'm privileged, I'm honored to be a part of that and be linked with that."
Madden also had high praise for the Lions, who reminded him of the rough-hewn Oakland Raiders teams he coached in 1969-78.
Was that Johnson catching a pass Thursday, or was it Fred Biletnikoff? Was that Matthew Stafford at quarterback, or Daryle Lamonica? Was Kyle Vanden Bosch rushing the passer or was it Ben Davidson?
It was a little hard to tell. Madden chuckled at the dirty label shared by the Lions and his Raiders.
"The ones that say dirty are the ones that play against you," he said. "And if they're on your team, 'Man, they're tough! My guys are really tough!' You go up to another player, they say, 'Well, they're dirty.'
"But you have to have that. We're trying to make the game safe, and that's right, and control it with some rules. But at the same time, it's still football. It's a tough game, and you have to be tough to play it, and I think that's where they're going in the right direction."
For the record, Madden refused to make a Super Bowl prediction. He said it was important to focus on the finish, especially the final four games of the regular season.
But the Lions, he said, are on the right track.
"I think this administration and this coaching staff has done a great job," Madden said. "... It's getting players, too, but it's also changing the culture. And this administration has done that. They've come in here and they changed the culture. Once you get that changed then that's your base and your foundation and you just go on from there."
John Madden 'a big fan' of video game cover boy Calvin Johnson | Detroit Lions | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
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|08-03-2012, 09:28 AM||away - #2|
|08-04-2012, 08:13 AM||away - #3|
Man I'm calling a week 5 injury. I was so mad when Megatron was announced to be on the cover.
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