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Madden blasts Ferrell for lack of respect

Former football coaching great and commentator John Madden is feeling prickly about actor Will Ferrell’s Cactus League tour on Thursday.

Ferrell played for 10 teams in five Major League Baseball spring exhibitions on one day in a stunt aimed at raising money to fight cancer. The Angels and Dodgers were among the teams Ferrell suited up for as he drew laughs from players and fans.

Madden, however, wasn’t amused by Ferrell’s antics.

“I hate it. That’s a lack of respect,” Madden told KPIX-TV in San Francisco. “That’s a lack of respect for the game and a [lack of] respect for what players have to do to get where they are.”

Madden, 78, went on to talk about how he told his players to treat Rick Barry when the former Golden State Warriors star asked about suiting up to practice with the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s.

“He was a friend of Al Davis’ and he said he was going to go in and suit up and go out on the field and practice, to fool Al. I swear this is true,” Madden said. “Jack Tatum and George Atkinson walked by and I said, ‘Look, if this guy comes out on the field, he’s live bait and I want you to go after him the way you would go after any other player that plays on another team.’ I said [to Barry], ‘Go ahead and dress, but we’re going to treat you like a football player and not like an NBA player.’ ”

Suffice to say, Barry didn’t join the Raiders for practice that day.