John Madden, the Hall of Fame coach turned commentator whose passionate yells mixed with straightforward explanations provided a weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades, died. He was 85 years old at the time.
John Madden died abruptly, according to the NFL, although no reason was given.
Madden rose to prominence as the coach of the renegade Oakland Raiders for a decade, leading them to seven AFC championship games and the Super Bowl following the 1976 season. He finished the regular season with a 103-32-7 record, and his.759 winning % is the greatest among NFL coaches who have coached more than 100 games.
But it was his efforts after he retired from coaching at the age of 42 that cemented Madden’s reputation as a household figure. With his use of the telestrator on broadcasts, he educated a football nation; he entertained millions with his “Boom!” and “Doink!” interjections throughout games; he was an omnipresent pitchman selling restaurants, hardware stores, and beer; he became the face of “Madden NFL Football,” one of the most successful sports video games of all time; and he was a best-selling author.
Most importantly, from 1979 to 2009, he was the top television sports commentator, receiving an astonishing 16 Emmy Awards for best sports analyst/personality and covering 11 Super Bowls for four networks.
When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he commented, “People constantly wonder, are you a coach, a broadcaster, or a video game guy?” “I’ve always been a coach,” she says.
After quitting teaching, he began his broadcasting career at CBS, in part due to his dread of traveling. He and Pat Summerall rose to the top of the network’s announcing staff. When Madden moved to Fox in 1994, he helped establish the network as a significant player, and he went on to call prime-time games for ABC and NBC until retiring following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ epic 27-23 Super Bowl victory against the Arizona Cardinals in 2009.
In a statement, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stated, “I am not aware of anybody who has had a greater effect on the National Football League than John Madden, and I know of no one who loved the game more.”
With a charming, straightforward attitude that was refreshing in a sports world of skyrocketing wages and prima donna stars, Madden gained a place in America’s heart. Because he had quit flying due to claustrophobia, he traveled from game to game in his own bus. Madden used to award a “turducken” – a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey — to the best player in the Thanksgiving game he was broadcasting.
“Coach loved football more than anybody else. In a statement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell remarked, “He was football.” “He was a fantastic sounding board for myself and a lot of other people.” There will never be another John Madden, and we will be eternally grateful to him for all he accomplished to shape football and the NFL into what they are today.”
Madden’s enthusiasm for the game, his preparation, and his ability to describe an often difficult game in simple terms were highly commended by colleagues when he ultimately withdrew from the broadcast booth, leaving NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”
At the time, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels remarked, “No one has made the sport more intriguing, more current, and more fun to watch and listen to than John.”
Anyone who saw Madden yell “Boom!” when breaking down a play could tell he was a huge fan of the game.
In “Hey, Wait a Minute!” Madden wrote, “TV is truly an extension of teaching for me.” (I’ve written a book!)”
“Coaching has taught me a lot about football.” And all I’m trying to do on TV is pass along some of that information to the audience.”
Madden grew up in the California town of Daly City. In 1957-58, he was a member of the offensive and defensive lines for Cal Poly, where he also obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Madden was named to the all-conference team and was picked by the Philadelphia Eagles, but a knee injury put a stop to his pro football dreams. Instead, Madden went into teaching, first at Hancock Junior College and later at San Diego State as the defensive coordinator.
In 1967, Al Davis hired him as a linebackers coach for the Raiders, and they won the Super Bowl in his first season. At the age of 32, he took over as head coach from John Rauch following the 1968 season, starting a historic 10-year reign.
Madden was the perfect coach for the collection of misfits and castoffs that made up those Raiders teams, with his flamboyant style on the sideline and untidy appearance.
“There were instances when males were strict disciplinarians over things that didn’t matter. “I was a tyrant when it came to leaping offsides; I despised that,” Madden famously stated. “Being in poor positions and missing tackles, those kinds of things,” he says. ‘Your hair must be brushed,’ I wasn’t told.
The Raiders fought back.
Quarterback Ken Stabler once observed, “I always believed his strong suit was his manner of teaching.” “John simply had a knack for allowing us to be who we wanted to be, on and off the field….” What can you do to make up for his behavior? For him, you win.”
And they did it in a big way. For many years, the playoffs were the only issue.
In his debut season, Madden finished 12-1-1, losing the AFL championship game 17-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs. During his career, the Raiders won the division title in seven of his first eight seasons, but went 1-6 in conference championship games.
Nonetheless, Madden’s Raiders appeared in some of the most famous 1970s NFL games, contests that contributed to reform the game’s regulations. In 1978, there was the “Holy Roller,” in which Stabler fumbled forward on purpose before being sacked on the last play. The ball rolled to the end zone and was swatted down before being recovered by Dave Casper for the game-winning touchdown against the San Diego Chargers.
The most notable of these games took place in Pittsburgh during the 1972 playoffs versus the Raiders. With 22 seconds remaining, the Steelers faced fourth-and-10 from their 40 yard line, with the Raiders ahead 7-6. Terry Bradshaw’s desperate throw was deflected to Franco Harris by either the Raiders’ Jack Tatum or the Steelers’ Frenchy Fuqua, who collected it at his toes and sprinted in for a score.
A throw that rebounded off an offensive player straight to a teammate was prohibited back then, and the controversy about who it struck continues to this day. The catch was nicknamed the “Immaculate Reception,” of course.
In 1976, the Raiders broke through with a loaded team that included Stabler at quarterback, Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch at receiver, tight end Dave Casper, Hall of Fame offensive linemen Gene Upshaw and Art Shell, and a defense that included Willie Brown, Ted Hendricks, Tatum, John Matuszak, Otis Sistrunk, and George Atkinson.
The Raiders finished 13-1, with the exception of a blowout loss to the Patriots in Week 4. They repaid the Patriots with a 24-21 triumph in their first playoff game and a 24-7 win over the Steelers, who were devastated by injuries, in the AFC championship game.
With a 32-14 Super Bowl victory against the Minnesota Vikings, the Raiders took it all.
Shell said, “Players liked playing for him.” “He made it enjoyable for us both in camp and during the regular season.” All he asked was that we arrive on time and play as hard as we could when it came time to play.”
When the Raiders lost in the AFC championship game the following season, Madden was diagnosed with an ulcer. After a 9-7 season in 1978, he resigned as a coach at the age of 42.
His wife, Virginia, and two sons, Joseph and Michael, are among the survivors. Two days before his death, John and Virginia Madden celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.
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