The NFL’s most influential? Madden may have been.

Lots of people accomplish a lot of things, but today we saw the retirement of one of the most accomplished people in the broadcasting industry.

For many years, John Madden was the youngest coach in the National Football League. In 1977, he led the Oakland Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory, and he still has the highest winning percentage of any modern NFL coach…763.

After retiring, Madden moved to broadcasting, where he became the most decorated analyst of all time. Madden was able to lure in the casual fan, was able to teach with flair, and he made it fun to listen to games he called on CBS, FOX, ABC and NBC. Listen closely to analysts now, and you’ll hear a bunch of them trying to sound like Madden.

When FOX wanted to make a big splash with their new sports division, they hired Madden. When Monday Night Football tried to recover from the disaster of letting Dan Dierdorf go and hiring Dennis Miller, they hired Madden. And when NBC grabbed the rights to the NFL’s Sunday Night package, the league’s most visible property, they lured Madden.

If coaching and broadcasting wasn’t enough, Madden probably made more young people football fans than any other person alive. His EA Sports franchise, Madden NFL, has sold over 60 million copies and generated over $1.5 billion dollars in revenue in 19 years. 60 million copies…sold mostly to kids…who learn about the game and the players, become knowledgeable fans of the sport, and probably, eventually buy tickets.

For the last five or six years, I’ve been one of the parents that celebrates Maddenoliday in August. It’s as important as Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving at my house. My son and I hit Steak and Shake at about 11:00 the night the game comes out, and have it in our hands moments after midnight. And at our house, even in mid-April, the kid’s still playing Madden.

In my opinion, Madden is the most influential person in recent NFL history. He will be missed.