Today, the National Football League has lost one of its all-time greats.
The league has just passed down the word that John Madden, the legendary coach who would go on to be a legendary broadcaster and the face of the most popular football video game franchise of all time, has passed away at the age of 85.
Madden, a native of Austin, Minnesota, grew up in California after his family moved out there in his youth. He was a college football star at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and was drafted in the 21st round of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, but suffered a knee injury that caused him to leave the sport as a player before he was able to take the field.
From there, he got into the college ranks, getting his start at San Diego State in the college ranks and then on to the Oakland Raiders as an assistant under John Rauch. After Rauch resigned to take over as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Madden was named the head coach of the Raiders for the 1969 season.
Madden was one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, with his .759 winning percentage still ranking as the highest in league history for coaches with at least 100 victories. In his ten seasons as the Raiders’ coach, his team made it to at least the AFL/AFC Championship seven times. They only won one of those Championship Games, but it did lead to a Super Bowl victory for the Raiders, as they defeated our Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI (the last time the purple have appeared in the big game).
After retiring in 1979, he began work for CBS as an announcer, and after working with several partners to start out with, he became half of one of the greatest commentary teams in league history when he was paired with Pat Summerall. As we pointed out a while back, the first game that Madden and Summerall ever called together was a victory by the Vikings over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1979, but they weren’t a regular pairing until the 1981 season. They would go on to call eight Super Bowls together (five for CBS and three for FOX). Madden would then go on to work for ABC and NBC, calling Monday Night and Sunday Night football games.
Many of our younger readers are most familiar with Madden from the video game series that bears his name. The first edition of John Madden Football appeared on PCs in 1988, and since then has appeared on nearly every imaginable platform and is updated every year. Madden contributed commentary to the game through the 2009 edition and though he was eventually replaced by a number of other announcers, the series still continues to bear his name.
There aren’t a lot of NFL personalities that have had the impact across multiple generations that John Madden had, and his influence will continue to be felt for a long time to come.
We want to pass our condolences to the family and friends of John Madden at this time. If you have any memories of him you’d like to share, please do so below.