John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and television personality, dies at 85

John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and television personality, dies at 85


John Madden, the Hall of Fame-turned-TV host whose lavish appeals combined with simple explanations have served as the weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades, passed away on Tuesday morning, the league reported. He was 85 years old.

The NFL said he died unexpectedly and did not provide a reason.

Madden rose to fame over the course of a decade as the Oakland Raiders renegade coach, reaching seven AFC title games and winning the Super Bowl after the 1976 season. He set a regular season record 103-32-7, and his 0.759 win rate is the best among NFL coaches with over 100 games.

But it was his job after prematurely leaving the coach at the age of 42 that made Madden a truly household name. He trained the football nation using a telestrator on radio broadcasts; entertained millions with his exclamation “Boom!” and “Doink!” throughout the game; was an ubiquitous merchant selling restaurants, hardware stores, and beer; became the face of Madden NFL Football, one of the most successful sports video games of all time; and has been a bestselling author.

Above all, he was an outstanding TV sports analyst for most of his three decades, naming games, winning an unprecedented 16 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Analyst / Personality and covering 11 Super Bowls for four networks from 1979 to 2009.

“People always ask, are you a coach, broadcaster or video game enthusiast?” he said when he was elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame. “I am a coach, I have always been a coach.”

He began his career on the air for CBS after leaving coaching largely due to his fear of flying. He and Pat Summerall became the Network’s Best Announcing Duo. Madden then helped Fox grow into a major network when he moved there in 1994, and went on to call primetime games on ABC and NBC before retiring after Pittsburgh’s spectacular 27-23 win over Arizona in the 2009 Super Bowl.

“I don’t know anyone who has had a more significant impact on the NFL than John Madden, and I don’t know anyone who loves the game more,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement.

Chunky and slightly unkempt, Madden has won a place in the heart of America with his pleasant and unpretentious style, which refreshed in the sports world with growing salaries and diva stars. He rode his own bus from game to game because he was claustrophobic and stopped flying. For a time, Madden handed out “turducken,” a chicken stuffed with duck stuffed with turkey, to a prominent player in the Thanksgiving game he named.

“Nobody loved football more than a coach. He was a footballer, “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “He was an incredible sound board for me and many others. There will never be another John Madden, and we will always be indebted to him for everything he has done to make football and the NFL what they are today. ”

When he finally retired from the broadcast booth, leaving NBC’s Football Sunday Night, Madden was widely praised for his passion for the sport, his training, and his ability to explain often complex games in simple terms.

Al Michaels, Madden’s broadcast partner for seven years on ABC and NBC, said working with him “felt like winning the lottery.”

“He was much more than just football – he closely watched everything that surrounded him, and a man who knew how to conduct an intelligent conversation on hundreds and hundreds of topics. The term “Renaissance man” is used too loosely these days, but John was as close as possible, “Michaels said.

For everyone who has heard Madden exclaim “Boom!” when he analyzed the play, his love for the game was evident.

“For me, television is really an extension of coaching,” Madden wrote in “Hey Wait! (I wrote a book!) “.

“I acquired my knowledge of football during my coaching work. And on television, all I try to do is convey some of this knowledge to the audience. “

Madden grew up in Daily City, California. From 1957-58, he played both the attacking and defensive lines of Cal Poly and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from that school.

Madden was selected to the all-conference team and included the Philadelphia Eagles, but a knee injury ended his hopes of a professional playing career. Instead, Madden became a coach, first at Hancock College and then as Defense Coordinator for San Diego State.

Al Davis brought him to the Raiders as a midfielder coach in 1967, and Oakland went to the Super Bowl in his first year as a pro. He succeeded John Rauch as head coach after the 1968 season at the age of 32, starting a remarkable 10-year run.

With his showy roadside demeanor and disheveled appearance, Madden was the perfect coach for picking up the scum and losers that made up the Raiders.

“Sometimes guys were disciplined about things that didn’t matter. I was a disciplined supporter of getting out of the game; I hated that, ”Madden once said. “Being in a bad position and missing tackles and the like. I didn’t say, “Your hair needs to be combed.”

The raiders responded.

“I always thought his strong point was his training style,” defender Ken Stabler once said. “John just had a great knack for letting us be who we wanted to be, on and off the pitch. … How will you repay him for being that way? You win for him. “

And boy, do they ever. For many years the playoffs were the only problem.

Madden went 12-1-1 in his first season, losing an AFL title game 17-7 to Kansas City. This pattern was repeated during his tenure; The Raiders have won the division title in seven of their first eight seasons, but have won 1-6 in conference title games during that time.

However, Madden’s Raiders played some of the most memorable games of the 1970s that helped change the rules in the NFL. There was “Holy Roller” in 1978, when Stabler deliberately fumbled ahead before getting fired in the final game. The ball rolled and was pushed back to the end zone before Dave Kasper returned it for a winning touchdown against San Diego.

The most famous of these games was played against the Raiders in the 1972 playoffs in Pittsburgh. With the Raiders in the 7-6 lead with 22 seconds left, the Steelers were fourth and tenth out of 40. Terry Bradshaw’s desperate pass came from either Jack Tatum from Oakland or French Fuqua from Pittsburgh to Franco Harris, who caught him on your boots. and ran after TD.

In those days, a pass that bounced off an attacking player straight to a teammate was illegal, and there is ongoing controversy over which player it hit. The trick, of course, has been dubbed the “immaculate trick.”

Oakland finally broke ahead with a busy team in 1976, with Stabler as quarterback; Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch at the reception; tight-end Dave Casper; Hall of Fame line-ups Gene Upshaw and Art Shell; and a defense that included Willie Brown, Ted Hendrix, Tatum, John Matushak, Otis Systrank and George Atkinson.

The Raiders went 13-1, losing just one hit to New England in Week 4. They returned the Patriots to a 24-21 win in their first playoff game and overcame the hump in an AFC title game to a 24-7 win over the matches. hated the Steelers who were crippled by injuries.

Oakland won it all in a Super Bowl 32-14 game against Minnesota.

“The players loved to play for him,” Schell said. “He entertained us at camp and entertained us in the regular season. All he asked was for us to be on time and play like hell when it was time to play. “

Madden battled ulcers the following season when the Raiders lost again in an AFC title match. He retired from coaching at the age of 42 after a 9-7 season in 1978.

Madden was a longtime resident of Pleasanton, California, a suburb of the Bay. The 90-minute documentary about his coaching and broadcast career, All Madden, debuted on Fox on Christmas Day. The film features extensive interviews that Madden has given this year. His wife Virginia and sons Joseph and Michael were also interviewed for the documentary.

John and Virginia Madden’s 62nd wedding anniversary celebrated two days before his death.


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