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Boom!

Written by Dan Gigler on .

Timothy McNulty

Farve & Madden illustration

Remember John Madden's constant complaining about the officiating in the 2005/06 Super Bowl? A lot of Steeler fans do. Three years ago some of the more conspiracy-ready fans couldn't help wondering if the former Raiders coach was disappointed that his former rivals were getting another Lombardi, and are likely steeling themselves for more of the same come Sunday.

If you're in that camp this story from the Wall Street Journal will make you feel better -- it's a major takedown of the HOF announcer:

But as exalted as his position has become, and as beloved as he is, Mr. Madden has, at times this season, struggled with the facts. In statements made during several recent NBC broadcasts, Mr. Madden, who is 72, has misjudged the number of times NFL teams execute running plays from the shotgun formation, attributed two offensive strategies to a team whose players deny using them and misstated how often the San Diego Chargers call pass plays.

In a recent playoff game, Mr. Madden said the New York Giants, who faced a third down with 10 yards to go, had not performed well in those situations. Seconds later, Mr. Madden's NBC booth partner, Al Michaels, called his attention to a graphic on the screen which noted that the Giants were tops in the NFL in third-and-long situations. "That was just some buttoning up that we needed to do," Mr. Michaels said, "Third and 10 isn't a good situation for anyone."

Earlier this month from his home in Northern California, Mr. Madden said keeping up with the new faces and strategies in the NFL takes more work than ever. When he signed a six-year contract with NBC in 2005 for roughly $25 million, the network decided to hire his oldest friend, former coach John Robinson, to sit next to him in the booth to help him handle the onslaught of player substitutions.

As for statistical errors, Mr. Madden says he views each game as a "separate entity" and that long-term statistics for teams and players are not as important to him as what happens during a particular game. On the night the Giants faced that third-and-long situation, he notes, the team had failed in that situation two times previously. "Statistically they may be the best, but they weren't that day," he says.

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