When John Madden Appeared in a Paul Simon Music Video
Paul Simon recruited an eclectic collection of guest stars when he finally shot a music video for “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” 16 years after the single’s release. Among them was John Madden, the legendary NFL broadcaster and former Super Bowl-winning coach with the Raiders.
Originally appearing on his 1972 self-titled solo LP, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” was inspired by Simon’s upbringing in the New York borough of Queens. The tune proved to be a moderate hit, peaking at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Simon decided to create a video for “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” when it came time to promote his 1988 greatest-hits release, Negotiations and Love Songs. The clip was filmed at Mathews-Palmer Park in Hell's Kitchen, and showed Simon playing a series of games against school children – with occasional help from professional athletes.
Early in the video, then-current NBA player Spud Webb joins Simon for a game of pickup basketball. (At 5’6,” Webb was one of the few ballplayers who wouldn’t tower over the 5’3” Simon.) Later, Simon engages in a game of stickball with Hall of Fame player Mickey Mantle, getting one swing-and-miss from the former Yankees great before watching his next pitch is smashed.
At the end of the video, a team of youngsters runs around playing touch football. Suddenly, a familiar face – and voice – appears on the other side of a chain link fence.
“Hey guys! Come here, come here. Huddle up around here,” Madden insists. “I’ve been watching you guys. You guys need some fundamentals,” he adds, pulling out a white board and drawing up plays.
The school kids pay attention initially, but soon tire of the speech, dismissing Madden to get back to their game. “Kids don’t listen to coaches the way they used to,” Madden mutters as he walks away.
Appearing in Simon’s music video wasn’t Madden’s only foray into acting. The Pro Football Hall of Famer, who died Tuesday at the age of 85, appeared in the films Little Giants and The Replacements, as well as the TV shows Arliss and The Simpsons.
He also turned down the chance to play a key role on the series Cheers.
“When Cheers first started, they wrote me in as the bartender, Coach,” Madden explained to Entertainment Tonight in 1994. “So, I talked about it. If the thing fails, you’re a failure, and I didn’t want to lose. And if the thing won, which obviously it did, then I would have had to quit what I was doing, what I loved. So, I couldn’t figure out why I should do it.”
Watch the Video for 'Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard'