Football Icon John Madden Passes Away at 85

John Madden The Man Myth Legend

Millions of people sit down each week to watch the game of football. Whether you are a casual football fan or a seasoned NFL bettor, chances are you know the name Madden. There is a good reason for that.

Anyone who has watched an NFL game in the last 50 years has done so with the help of John Madden. It is common in today’s game to see commentators use telestrations to help explain plays. To hear them try and make the game entertaining and educational for all levels of fans. They meet with teams before the game to gain extra insight to share during the broadcast. You can see the down and distance on the field.

Many of the staples of the modern NFL broadcast, the telestrations, commentators with large personalities, production meetings with teams, and so much more can all be attributed to one man: John Madden. The NFL Hall of Famer passed away on Tuesday at the age of 85.

Madden has been an integral part of the NFL since entering into the NFL in 1967. He was promoted to the Raiders’ head coach at the age of 32 and became one of the winningest coaches in NFL history. After retiring from coaching, Madden went into broadcasting.

He would be the voice of football for 30 years.
Off the field and out of the booth, he changed the way many younger fans learned the game through the Madden football video game.

Even after leaving the broadcast booth, Madden would continue to influence the game by advising Commissioner Roger Goodell. He also worked with the NFL’s competition committee and safety panel. After a long wait, Madden was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Madden the Coach

Madden was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958, but he suffered a knee injury in training camp a never took the field. Instead, the former offensive lineman turned from playing to coaching. Madden coached at Allan Hancock College from 1960 to 1963. From there, he moved on to be the defensive coordinator at San Diego State from 1964 to 1966. The following year, he was hired to be the Oakland Raiders’ DC in 1967.

“Coaching isn’t work. It’s more than a job. It’s a way of life… no one should go into coaching unless he couldn’t live without it… Football is what I am. I didn’t go into it to make a living or because I enjoyed it. There is much more to it than just enjoying it. I am totally consumed by football, totally involved. I’m not into gardening… or any other hobbies. I don’t fish or hunt. I’m in football.” – John Madden

In his first season as the DC in Oakland, Madden and the Raiders went to the Super Bowl. Madden’s defense was not enough to stop the Packers from repeating as champions in Super Bowl 2. After the following season, Madden would be promoted to head coach in 1968 at the age of only 32.

Madden was not Al Davis’ first choice.

The Raiders owner wanted to hire Chuck Noll. When Knoll took a job with the Steelers, Madden took his shot at getting the head coaching job. Madden’s unique coaching style would be the perfect fit for Oakland. He would lead the silver and black to a 12-1-1 record in his first year.

The early success was not a fluke and Madden would prove to be one of the best coaches in the NFL. In the decade under Madden, the Oakland went 103-32-7. His win percentage of .759 is the highest in NFL history for a coach with over 100 games. For perspective, Bill Belichick’s win percentage is .671.

Along with compiling wins, Madden also kept the Raiders relevant in the post-season conversation. Oakland appeared in 7 AFC championship games in his 10 years as the head coach. Madden’s teams struggled to find the ultimate success in the playoffs until they won Super Bowl XI.

On top of being one of the best teams of the 1970s, Oakland also appeared in many of the most famous “Games with Names”.

From the Immaculate Reception to the Sea of Hands to the Holy Roller. Many of the biggest games in the early days of the Super Bowl era involved Madden’s Raiders.

Madden the Broadcaster

Madden retired from coaching after the 1978 season. Luckily, football fans would not have to wait long for another dose of Madden. The legendary coach joined CBS as a broadcaster in 1979.

Despite not being high on the broadcasting profession, Madden joined the booth with the other “hairdos” for his first broadcast at the LA coliseum. In the booth with Madden was another soon-to-be-legendary broadcaster, Bob Costas.

In 1981, Madden was elevated to a higher-profile role alongside Pat Summerall. Madden and Summerall would form one of, if not the, best broadcasting duos in sports history. The legendary pair would call 8 Super Bowls together. Madden would remain with CBS until the end of the 1993 season. The two broadcasters had natural chemistry in the booth and even made a few friendly prop bets or two.

After he left CBS, Madden joined the commentary team at Fox for the start of the 1994 season. Summerall would also join Madden at his new network. Madden and Summerall were an integral part of helping Fax establish itself as a football network.

The team would remain at Fox until the end of the 2001 season.
While at Fox, Madden would redefine the salary for sports commentators. He made more annually than any NFL player at the time. Madden would go on to work as a commentator for ABC from 2002-2005 and NBC from 2006 to the end of the 2008 season. His last game as a broadcaster was Super Bowl 43. Madden would earn 16 Emmy Awards over the course of his career. He also called 11 Super Bowls and is the only broadcaster to call the big game on all four major networks.

Fans loved Madden for his commentary that made the game fun and easy to digest. Players loved Madden, too. For many players, there was no higher honor than being named to the All-Madden team. The larger-than-life figure also created many traditions we still see today. Madden’s turducken is one of the most famous NFL Thanksgiving moments.

Madden the Video Game

Madden was able to teach fans more about football than just about any other broadcaster during his three-decades calling games. The legendary coach and commentator also had another teaching tool, a video game. Madden agreed to lend his name to the EA game in the mid-1980s.

However, the partnership almost fell through when EA wanted to limit the number of players on the virtual field. Madden’s insistence on have 11-on-11 delayed the game several years, but it was worth it.

The first Madden game was released in 1988. Since then, it has gone on to be one of the best-selling sports video games of all time. The game also catapulted EA into the elites of game developers. Since it was released, the franchise has had over $4 billion in sales and has been released on over 30 platforms.

It also proved to be more than just a game. Madden originally envisioned the game as a teaching tool. The NFL icon would be proven correct. Through the game, a new generation of fans was able to fall in love with football and learn the game along the way.

Madden’s video game would do more than just provide fun for fans. It would also inspire future superstars to want to play in the NFL. From the likes of Michael Vick to Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. The ability to learn the game at a young age inspired many stars of the 21st century to go pro. Players who are lucky enough to be featured on the cover of the game never forget it.

Madden the Man

There is no doubt that Madden was a legendary coach, broadcaster, and teacher loved by millions. But what many people may not realize is that he was also a great human being. Many former players have praised Madden for being kind and thoughtful. Perhaps one of the best examples of Madden’s big heart came in his last preseason as a head coach.

In a 1978 preseason matchup with New England, Oakland safety Jack Tatum laid a vicious but legal hit on WR Darryl Stingley. Stingley would be taken to a local California hospital. After the game, Madden visited Stingley in the hospital. When he found out no Patriots coaches were at the hospital with Stingley.

The Raiders coach called the Oakland Airport and insisted they remove the Patriots coach from the plane so he could come to the hospital and support Stingley. Madden would continue to support Stingley and his family for years afterward.

The Darryl Stingley incident is just of many examples throughout his life that proved Madden to be a hall of fame person. His impact on the NFL reaches across many generations of football fans. His legacy will no doubt continue to impact the game for years to come.

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Zack McGovern / Author

Zack is a hardcore sports fans with years of professional writing experience. He’s also a fan of sports betting and loves offering picks on his favorite teams and athletes. If he’s not writing about different sporting events, he’s probably watching them from home. Zack’s a hardcore MMA and NFL fan, but he’s happy to cover news on the NHL, MLS, and MLB. If you’re interested in making a few wagers on different sports, feel free to check out some of his recent articles.

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