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Hail to the King

This story about John Madden and Skyline Chili should be taught in Ohio schools for generations to come

December 29, 2021

By now you’ve probably heard the news: On Tuesday morning, John Madden, a man who embodied football perhaps more than any other, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 85. Madden was a Hall of Fame coach (he’s second all-time in NFL winning percentage and NEVER had a losing season), iconic broadcaster, and the face of one of the most popular sports video games on earth, but he was also a legend in the arena of food, as anyone who ever watched him team tear a Turducken apart with bare paws can attest …

When Madden wasn’t busy stuffing a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, however, he could be found sampling the local delicacies wherever his football adventure took him. One such place was the great city of Cincinnati, producing, as you might have already guessed, one of the great Skyline Chili stories of our time. Dig in.

Incredible. The entire CBS production team went out for a fancy meal at a French bistro, and Madden ghosted them to crush a platter of Skyline by himself. Then he showed up to an interview still wearing half the meal. You can’t pull off that move, don’t even try.

There are far greater, grander John Madden stories out there, but this one drives at the heart of his legend. He was simultaneously one in a million and every one of us. He knew more about football than God (and pocketed more money than him too) and yet all he wanted was a pile of cheese on top a pile of chili on top a pile of spaghetti. If you can’t relate to that, then enjoy your escargot.