Big Lead Sports Bar


Mark Madden's Misguided Argument

2006 "50 Most Beautiful People" nominee Mark Madden

Mark Madden is a polarizing sports media figure here in Pittsburgh. He is the host of "The Mark Madden Show" on ESPN Radio 1250 from 3-7 PM each afternoon. From all accounts, he has quite a large following. He has been my radio voice of choice for several years. Usually, I appreciate his telling it like it is, and avoidance of general phonyism. He hangs up on callers, he's offensive, and he's honest. Madden also has a large legion of haters. But haters listen too, and Madden continues to thrive each time the ratings book comes out.

While I enjoy listen to old Double M, I often disagree with him. One of my biggest arguments with Madden is his contention last year of how much the Steelers would miss Plaxico Burress. I think he was proven wrong on that one. But that's a topic for another day.

Today, Madden has been railing on the Steelers for their belief that 2nd year WR Nate Washington, from tiny
Tiffin University, can be an NFL receiver. Personally, I have not seen enough of Washington to weigh in on his merits. But to merely write him off simply because of where he went to school is just plain silly.

Last year, the Steelers had a running back who never started in college. He was also signed as a free agent. Madden refused to believe in this player from day one. But you may know him now. Just look up "Longest TD run in Super Bowl history", and you'll see Fast Willie Parker.

Another example of the refs screwing over the Seahawks by allowing this record-setting touchdown

Madden's argument agsint Parker was "If he wasn't good enough to start at North Carolina, how could he be good enough to start for the Steelers?". Madden apparently has failed to notice that unlike the Pirates, the Steelers coaches actually know what they're doing. Players get better once they join the Steelers. Look at the late-round draft picks (5th or later) and free agents from the Cowher Era, with draft round:

1992 - Darren Perry (8)
1993 - Willie Williams (6)
1994- Boo Bell (5), Jim Miller (6)
1995- Lee Flowers (5)
1996- Orpheus Roye (6), Carlos Emmons (7)
1998- Chris Fuamatu-Maafala (6)
1999- Jerame Tuman (5)
2000- Clark Haggans (5)
2001- Chukky Okobi (5)
2002- Verron Haynes (5), Brett Keisel (7)
2004- Willie Parker (undrafted)

These aren't All Pros, but they are certainly solid NFL contributors/starters. So we can all pretty much conclude that Mr. Bill can "coach up" players.

That being the case, where a player played in college should not matter quite as much once he reaches Camp Cowher. There are countless examples of small school players who have not only made NFL teams, but are among some of the All Time Greats, Steelers included:

Walter Payton - Jackson State
Jerry Rice - Mississippi Valley State
Terrell Owens - Tennessee-Chattanooga
Joe Greene - North Texas State
Mel Blount- Southern University
John Stallworth - Alabama A&M

And that short list doesn't even include players from MAC schools like Ben Roethlisberger (Miami, Ohio), and Randy Moss, Chad Pennington & Byron Leftwich (Marshall), due to the fact that the MAC has only in recent years become a larger player on the national scene.

Madden has stated that he prefers big-time, big-school players. Don't forget, Fred Gibson went to Georgia, Alonzo Jackson went to Florida State, Danny Farmer went to UCLA, and Huey Richardson went to Florida.

I know that players can go good or bad, big-school or small-school. There are certainly plenty of examples on both sides. I'm not a giant Nate Washington fan either, but I think at this point we should at least trust the Steelers' front office in the player procurement and development department. If they think Washington is a quality receiver, that's good enough for me. All I am arguing is that it's not fair to write off a guy simply because of pedigree (or lack thereof).


Anonymous said...


Madden is like a lot of these sports commentators today: They say things not because they necessarily believe them, but because they think it will stir up conversation. Madden knows how to get ratings, just denegrate the Steelers or Steeler fans. He's no dummy.

Take Madden's unceasing, unrelenting defense of Barry Bonds as an example. He doesn't care about Bonds, he just takes a contrary view to get listeners to call in.

About four years ago I can vividly remember Madden saying one day that the Steelers were on the verge of becoming such a bad team, blah, blah, blah. He's wrong about as often as Bob Smizik...and he flip-flops like Smizik too. That's saying something!

Anonymous said...

Madden's antics (ie insulting the Steelers players AND fans) are reminiscent of another act, that of the "bad guy" or "heel" in pro wrestling.

You know the type. He goes out, grabs the mic, tells the fans they're idiots then insults their favorite wrestler.

This gets a reaction out of the fans. And, although they hate him, they still tune in to watch him hoping maybe he'll get his one day.

Replace the "bad guy" wrestler with Madden, the wrestling fans with Steeler fans, and the wrestler the bad guy wrestler insults with Steeler players and staff. Same exact schtick, and it's been making millions of dollars in the pro wrasslin biz for about 100 years!

In fact, I'm pretty sure that Madden was actually in the pro wrestling biz for awhile.

So, now that we all see where he gets his act from, can we just forget the guy exists?

Anonymous said...

Was Lousiana Tech that big a deal in the late 60s? I seem to remember a lad named Terry Bradshaw.

Anonymous said...

Donnie Shell deserves to be on your list of undrafted free agents who had big-time success in the NFL.
Madden’s a blowhard hack who tries to promote controversy and thus attention for himself. Less said about him, the better.

Nate Washington can play. As can Willie Parker. The Pirates could learn that there’s something to be said for having trust and demonstrating faith in your young players.

Anonymous said...


If the Pirates ever learned anything. Which they don't.

Anonymous said...

Madden is an ass clown.

Anonymous said...

Madden never played an organized sport in his life - aside from that deck hockey nonsense.

He has no idea about the structure that exists within a team environment.

People get overlooked in life for a variety of reasons. Think John Bunting doesn't feel like an ass the 26 times he hears the name "Willie Parker" each week. Of course he does.

The same can be said in all walks of life and all professions. For example, I used to read another Pittsburgh sports blog until I was turned on to a better alternative, Mondesi's House.

Madden is a big turd in a small pond.