John Madden, the National Football League Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster, has passed away at the age of 85. Madden was revered by many for not only his vigorous personality, but the way he changed the game throughout the years.
Madden’s NFL career started with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958, when he was drafted in the 21st round. However, a knee injury quickly ended any chances of playing. Madden would then move on to coaching, where he would find unimaginable levels of success starting at the age of 32.
While Madden only helmed the then-Oakland Raiders for just 10 seasons, he more than made the most of it. Madden posted a record of 103-32-7 with seven division titles, qualifying for the playoffs eight times. Even more remarkable was the fact none of his teams ever finished under .500 – the coach finished with a winning percentage of .759. In 1976, Madden led the team to a victory in Super Bowl XI, the Raiders’ first championship.
Following his fruitful head coaching tenure, Madden took up broadcasting. He worked with all four major networks — CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC — as a color commentator, typically on primetime games like “Monday Night Football” and “Sunday Night Football” up until 2009. “The thing that made it hard is not because I’m second-guessing, ‘Is it the right decision?'” Madden said of retirement at the time. “But I enjoyed it so damn much.”
Al Michaels, who broadcasted alongside Madden on NBC, commented in a statement that working with him was like “hitting the lottery.” “He was so much more than just football,” Michaels said. “[He] was a keen observer of everything around him and a man who could carry on a smart conversation about hundreds and hundreds of topics.”
Madden was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. Raiders’ owner Mark Davis — the son of Al Davis, who owned the team during Madden’s reign — lit a torch in honor of the icon, while NFL commissioner Roger Goodell simply stated that Madden “was football.”
“He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others. There will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today.”
In addition to words from the Raiders and the NFL, numerous other teams, players, and legends voiced their sentiments on Madden’s passing, expressing just how much of an impact was left by who many refer to simply as “Coach.”
NFL fans and video game players alike may know Madden best from EA’s “Madden Football” game series, which started back in 1989 as “John Madden Football” before making the switch to the now-used title in 1993. By 2018, more than 130 million copies of “Madden Football” had been sold. The series has become all but unmatched in the genre.
Madden’s death comes just four days after the Christmas Day airing of “All Madden,” a FOX Sports’ documentary that details the life and career of the broadcaster. In his wake, the program is set to be re-aired and will be available on additional streaming services.
Andrew Rhoades is a Contributing Reporter at The National Digest based in New York. A Saint Joseph’s University graduate, Rhoades’ reporting includes sports, U.S., and entertainment. You can reach him at email@example.com.