Sunday, January 2, 2022

2021 All-Madden Team—Channeling John Madden

 By John Turney 

In 1984 John Madden's best friend John Robinson, "You know what you outta do? You need you to pick an All-Pro team of 'your guys'". Madden heeded the suggestion and picked teams from 1984 through 2001. In fact, the Pro Football Writers of American (PFWA) should name their All-NFL team the "All-Madden Team" to honor the late, great Madden.

With Mr. Madden's passing, we thought we'd channel his persona and pick a team of "his type of guys" as an homage to that great tradition.

So forgive the first-person dramatization—

Wide Receivers
"My first pick is Cooper Kupp. He's about to break a lot of records. He's a guy you want on your team. Sure he can catch, but they all can catch. But this guy runs perfect routes, blocks and is hard to bring down, he gets lots of YAC. YAC is 'yards after the catch' and you want a lot of those. He also has a beard and guys with beards just look tougher".
Cooper Kupp
"Davante Adams is a guy I also love because he can run all the routes, and makes Aaron Rodgers' job a lot easier. He also can play in that cold and frozen habitat, where it is just more fun to watch football. Davante is also the spokesperson for Marriott Hotels, one of the NFL sponsors. I can attest that Marriott Hotels are terrific, you get a good night's sleep and a comfortable room every time."

"Deebo Samuel has to be here, too. First, you gotta love a guy named "Deebo" it gives you character and teams need character. This guy lines up everywhere, it doesn't matter, wide receiver, wing, running back. He's got six receiving touchdowns and SEVEN rushing touchdowns. He's like the old guys that did it all like Frank Gifford or Lenny Moore. Running back, receiver, "Hey coach, just give me the ball!"."

"Cordarrelle Patterson is similar to Deebo. He's not only one of the greatest kick returners ever, now he's a receiver and a running back. So he'd be our return man and if we need a guy who can catch or run, he's right there. He's also like Deebo in that he has six rushing touchdowns and five receiving a good combination of scoring on the ground and through the air. He also wears number 84. You gotta have a guy with that number in your backfield." 

Tight End
"My first tight end is Marcedes Lewis because you gotta have a guy who can block and no one can blocker better than Marcedes. His first name sounds like a car and this guy blocks like a Mercedes Benz and he can catch a little if you need him. You also have to have a tight end who can catch and my guy for that is George Kittle. He can block, too, but he's a tough guy, has that long hair and beard, and can make spectacular catches in the middle, he can get deep and he can run after the catch."

"Trent Williams is a huge guy who can run over everyone, you can see clips of him spattering guys and he's a left tackle that reminds me of Erik Williams, the old tackle for the Cowboys. Not only can he pass protect but he can drive block guys into the next area code."
Trent Williams
"My next pick is Lane Johnson of the Eagles. Everyone knows I suffer from anxiety and that is one reason I stepped away from coaching and why I rode in the Madden Cruiser, I just could not fly. Lane had some issues and rather than run from them he got them treated and that took a lot of courage to do that during the season and that's what you need to play the offensive line—courage—and Johnson has that. He can also block, he has great quickness and speed, heck he could be a tight end if he wanted. And he used to be a quarterback and that is also a plus, a tackle who can think like a quarterback so he knows that he has to protect that pretty boy quarterback because he knows what it is like to get hit."

"I like nasty guards and Quenton Nelson and Zack Martin are my guys this year. Both are from Notre Dame and you always need a couple of Golden Domers on any All-Pro team or Knute Rockne will haunt you and I don't want that".

"It's my team and I need two centers. Rodney Hudson is the old pro, a big man who is tough and stout. The other is fast, quick, gazelle-like Jason Kelce. I need both. Sometimes I want the road grader-type like Hudon to root out a nose tackle. Other times I want a center who can snap and pull and lead a sweep. One year I picked seven nose-tackles so I can have two centers if I want. I could have messenger centers if I wanted."

Kyle Juszczyk is my fullback. Every team needs a "Juice Check". He can lead block. He can motion to the wing. he can run the ball, catch the ball. he runs routes from the slot or the wing or ting end position. he plays special teams and makes tackles there and also good blocks. And, in an emergency, he can even be a holder for field goals or PATs if your regular holder goes down. Now THAT'S All-Madden."

Running Back
"Look, you need someone to carry the ball and even though he got hurt Derrick Henry is my kind of back. Even if it is just to see him stiff-arm a guy. Look at him, boom, and the defender goes down. I love that. But, since runners do get hurt you need more than one. So, Jonothan Taylor is someone I need on my team, too. He's like Eric Dickerson was in the 1980s with the Rams, a running back that just carries the team. So he's All-Madden, too."

"There are great quarterbacks in the league. And I love a lot of them. Aaron Rodgers may be the MVP. But my pick is Justin Herbert. Just look at this throw! he's 6-6, 237, and he looks like 'Snake Plissken' from the movie Escape from New York. He plays football in Los Angeles, near Hollywood and you need that on an All-Pro team—someone who is a PR guy that says, 'Hey, We look good'". 
Justin Herbert

"These days they call ends "edges". The only edge I know the on a cliff and I don't like heights so I call them defensive ends. The new age guys can call them "edges" but they have to come up with new names to keep their jobs. Changing the names of things mean one thing—job security because if you use a language no one understands they think you're smart."

"My first one is Nick Bosa. He's like the greats, plays the run, plays the pass, is quick. He's like a cross between Jack Youngblood and Howie Long, two of my early All-Madden picks. He's just a dominant end."

"Also, you need to have defensive ends with a great physique those washboard abs. For an offensive lineman, they can be "B.U.B.B.A.s"—Brotherhood United of Bad Bodies of America" but for defensive rushers, the ends, they need to look good like Nick Bosa. You gotta look great for that position like Adonis who was some sort of Greek god who looked good. That's what we want for our defensive ends, too."

Nick Bosa
"Myles Garrett is the same as Bosa. He does all the same things. He's a great athlete and watch how low he can get on his turns. He's like Spiderman. I love him—he has speed has power, he can get low and get under a guy".

"Again now they call these guys "defensive interiors". What is that? They're tackles. And the best tackle is Aaron Donald. I have seen up close and personal the best defensive tackles ever—Joe Greene, Bob Lilly, Merlin Olsen, and Alan Page. I think this kid (Donald) is the best. He may even win another Defensive Player of the Year Award. I mean you can't block him. He gets held all the time. He is slippery, strong, powerful and he's short, so he can get underneath guys, he has all the leverage. No one is more dominant in the NFL."

"My other tackle is Vita Vea. He is a powerful giant in the middle—you have to have a nose tackle. You're lucky I am not picking six more. He gets good push and looks at this, he loses his helmet, loses a tooth, and laughed about it. This has to be the 'All-Madden' play of the season."
Vita Vea loses a tooth

"Greg Gaines is a terrific nose who filled in for a guy that got hurt. He played with a broken hand. That is tough, defensive linemen like Dan Hampton will tell you playing with bad knees is not as bad as playing with broken hands. Gaines reminds be of Jim Burt of the Giants who was a great nose tackle for those 1980s teams."
Greg Gaines
Middle Linebackers
"There are a lot of guys I love. It's a position coaches always love—Middle linebacker. Tremaine Edmunds is one I am picking. He's 6-5 and 250 pounds. When I coached that was defensive end size. He leads a top-notch Bills defense."

"I am also picking Fred Warner, he's 6-3 and 230 and can run like the wind. He's a sideline-to-sideline guy. And that 49er defense is also a tough one."

"De'Vondre Campbell is also worthy of All-Madden. He makes so many big plays for the packers. If the Packers can win a Super Bowl, say what you will about the offense, it will be  because of the defense and this guy is the reason the defense is much-improved."

"Sure, I know it's three inside 'backers, but it's my team and you need guys that can play and these guys can all play".

Outside Linebackers
"Rookie Micah Parsons does it all. he plays outside linebacker in their normal defense where he plays the run and drops into coverage. But on third down he rushes the passer, he gets after the quarterback. Many are comparing him to Lawrence Taylor's rookie year. Now, he's not Lawrence Taylor yet, but remember, even LT was not "LT" until a few years later. So this kid is special. He's earned All-Madden."
Micah Parsons
"Darius Leonard's nickname is "Maniac" and you have to have someone named 'Maniac" on any All-madden team. But it's more than that. He's making tackles, picking off passes, forcing fumbles, recovering fumbles, just going crazy on offenses. He's like Wilber Marshall was for those 1980s Bears."

"You need rushers from your linebacking group and TJ Watt is that guy. He's been making big plays for years. Sacks, hits, hurries, pressures, forced fumbles, everything. He's always making them, it seems, in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. You want that—clutch players."

"My other rusher from the linebacker position is Joey Bosa. Hey, if one Bosa on your All-Pro team is good, then two are better. Joey is Nick's older brother and plays down the coast from San Francisco in Los Angeles and he's someone you can count on to get after passer and to cause problems for opposing tackles. Whether he's a linebacker in the Charger's 5-1 base or a defensive end in their nickel, he's a great one."

"Jalen Ramsey is one of my guys, he can play inside, outside, he can play a "Star" or even as a linebacker. He can cover, blitz. he does it all. Welcome to All-Madden, Jalen."

"Trevon Diggs reminds me of Lester Hayes. He gives up yards, but he also turns games around. Lester did that. After I left the Raiders and saw my friend Tom Flores coach the Raider to a Super Bowl win,  Lester would give up some yards but when you play man coverage that happens, but turnover are at a premium in today's NFL, even more than ever before and this guy (Diggs) is the best at it. Hey, as a coach I will give up some yards if you can get me that ball. Diggs is an easy choice."

"In today's game, you have to more than two corners and I want one who changes games. Rasul Douglas is that guy. He picks off the ball and takes them for scores. And he's dropped a couple more. He's been a big part of the Packers defense. He's 6-2, 210, but plays and has the quickness of a guy who is 5-11, 185."

"Tyrann Devine Mathieu is a perfect name. 'Devine'—you have to have a slice of Heaven. Honey Badger is his nickname and I always wanted that kind of guy. Honey Badger plays safety but also in the slot. he does it all. He is a perfect All-Madden safety."

"My other safety is Budda Baker, another great name, but he's also a great player. He has great speed but he can play coverage, blitz and in today's game they cannot hit like they did when I was coaching but when he gets a chance Budda will give a good hit. Also, you need a guy for 'luck' and according to tradition when you rub Budda's belly you get good luck, so we'll do that with Budda Baker."
Budda Baker
Pat Summerall is my kicker. If I have to pick someone alive it's Justin Tucker. You gotta have some class and sophistication on your team, so it's Justin. He can kick a 66-yard field goal and sing opera. SO, for me, he's a twofer. He can kick a game-winning field goal and sing an Aria. I think that is what they sing. I don't know but whatever it is, he can sing it."

"That's it. That;'s my team. We've got big uglies and good-looking guys. We've got tough guys and fast guys. I will take these guys to battle anytime."


  1. Great channeling --Madden would be proud-- guys, do Trent Williams and Ndamukong Suh deserve to be in the HOF ?

  2. Great shot of Bosa there, pal. One of your favorites?

  3. Nice post Mr Turney. Great to see you talking like Madden here.

  4. John would be proud of your in depth description of these great players. Thanks for keeping Mr.Maddens team going....