It’s been over a week now since we lost one of the great icons of Pleasanton when John Madden passed away at 85.
There were a lot of cool things about having John as a Pleasanton resident and a fixture around the town.
But the coolest was, if you were a Pleasanton resident, you knew John. It was obvious on social media last week after John passed as people were sharing memories and, in some cases, photos of John when they ran into him somewhere around town.
Here he was, larger than life and easily recognizable wherever he went. But, in Pleasanton, he was just "John."
You can talk about his coaching career, his broadcasting, the video games, or the countless commercials, but to me his greatest legacy was that he was just one of us around town.
It was because of that he could go around Pleasanton without being hassled or bothered.
Plain respect from the people of Pleasanton.
It was a trait the entire Madden family carried. Whenever my wife and I would run into his wife Virginia in a store or restaurant, she went out of her way to say hi and ask how we were doing.
His boys, Mike and Joe, were down to earth as well. For years Mike coached the Foothill freshman football team and did a wonderful job.
It wasn’t about wins and losses as much as it was about getting the kids comfortable with playing high school football. The success rate was measured by the number of kids that stayed in the program as they moved through school.
I had three of my boys play for Mike and all three of them loved every moment.
A side highlight to Mike coaching is that John would come to the games. At first, he would sit in the stands, but if the weather got bad or as the years would go on, he started sitting in the press box.
Being the announcer, along side Randy Isaacs running the clock, let us be privy to some amazing conversation. Isaacs is a long-time close friend of the Madden family, and I can remember the two of us just sitting there and listening to John break down a freshman football game, much the same way he did NFL games on Sunday.
My wife and I had a breakfast at Vic’s last week, a regular stop for us on weekends, as well as one of the places John would stop by regularly.
There was a little memorial set up on his regular table and we were seated at the table next to it.
It was fascinating and heart warming to see the reverence as people paid tribute to the life of John. Some took pictures, others just stopped and paid their respects.
I sat there looking at the table and, while sad, it also put a smile on my face as I thought back to all the times I had a chance to talk with John.
My most memorable was a front page story I did for the old Tri-Valley Herald. It was a story on John, Mike, and Joe. I was afforded time with each of them, as well as a Virginia, in their offices in Pleasanton.
It was an incredible time -- something I will never forget. I remember when the story ran, the paper framed a print of the story and presented it to the family.
They were genuinely touched, and I remember them telling me it was one of their favorite stories ever written about the family. Whether it was or not didn’t matter –- they made me feel it was and that’s all that counts.
That’s who John was and will always be remembered as.
Rest in peace, John, and thank you for always being you. You made all of us in Pleasanton happy to know you.
Amador boys’ basketball
The Dons took their first two games in the Dougherty Valley tournament to advance to the finals before falling to the host team.
In the opener, Tyler Cheng pumped in 28 points in leading Amador to a 57-49 win over Antioch. Foster Keast had 13 points, with Bryce Osaki and Colton Cash scoring eight points each.
The semifinals saw the Dons score a 47-42 win over Queen Creek from Arizona.
Cash had 22 points to lead Amador and the Dons finished the game with nine, 3-point field goals.
In the finals the Dons ran into the buzzsaw that is Dougherty Valley, falling behind 18-4 at the end of the first quarter and ultimately losing 51-31.
Cash had 11 points and Keast six for the Dons.
Amador girls’ basketball
The Lady Dons won the Turquoise Division of the West Coast Jamboree Basketball Tournament on December 30 by beating Half Moon Bay High 51-38.
Junior guard Gianna Ghio was named MVP, senior wing Ally Chang and senior guard Arissa Leomiti were named to the all-tournament team.