The League announced that John Madden, the Raiders’ Super Bowl-winning coach and legendary NFL broadcaster, died unexpectedly on Tuesday morning. He was 85 years old.
Madden was one of the most recognizable faces in football during his broadcasting career, giving his name to the highly successful NFL video game series. During his tenure with the Oakland Raiders, the team did not go through a losing season.
“We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach for the Oakland Raiders and Broadcasters who have worked with every major network, but more than anything else, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “On behalf of the entire NFL family, we offer our condolences to Virginia, Mike and Joe and their families.”
Madden was appointed as the Raiders’ head coach in 1969, when he was 32, and held that position even after the 1978 season. The team set a regular season record 103-32-7 over 10 seasons.
The Raiders reached the playoffs eight times and won the 1977 Super Bowl, following the 1976 season.
“No one loves football more than a coach. It was football. It was a wonderful sounding board for me and so many others,” Goodell said in the statement. “There will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for everything he did to make football Football and the NFL as they are today.”
After retiring from professional football, Madden became a colorist and commentator, first on CBS in 1979, and later on Fox, “Monday Night Football” on ABC and “Sunday Night Football” on NBC.
“No one has made this sport more interesting, more relevant and fun to watch and listen to than John,” said NBC theater host Al Michaels at the time of Madden’s retirement.
Michaels, who has worked alongside Madden on “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football,” said in a written statement Tuesday that working with him was “like hitting the lottery.”
“He was so much more than just football – a devoted observer of everything around him and a man who could have an intelligent conversation on hundreds and hundreds of topics,” he said.
In his radio career, Madden was known for exclamation points such as “boom!” Realistic style and the ability to explain a complex game in terms anyone can understand.
Madden did not like to fly and was known to travel to games in a converted Greyhound bus, called the “Madden Cruiser”.
Known for having helped bring a “turducken” – a chicken stuffed with duck and then stuffed in a turkey – to the nation’s attention, he would assign a “turkey leg prize” to the most important player in the Thanksgiving game, start in 1989.
Madden announced his retirement from broadcasting in 2009 after 30 years.
The Raiders, now located in Las Vegas, said at a permit Tuesday, few people were responsible for the popularity of professional football as Madden.
“A great coach. A loyal and reliable friend,” the team said, recalling the words of team owner Al Davis at the Madden Gala in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Madden grew up and graduated from Daly City, California What is now California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he played football in attack and defense.
He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1958 NFL Draft but a knee injury ended his career chances.
Become a coach at Alan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California, then was a defensive coordinator at San Diego State University before joining the Raiders as a quarterback coach in 1967.
When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Madden said of his life and career, “It’s been an amazing journey. I want to thank everyone who’s been along in any part of it.”
Several teams, in both the NFL and other sports, have expressed their grief over Madden’s death and offered their condolences.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement after Madden’s death, “When I think of an athlete worthy of the term ‘larger than life,’ I always think of John. And I always will.”
Former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersole in a statement called Madden “the most impressive man I’ve ever met.”
“Sunday night football is what it is today in part because it came to NBC,” Ebersol said.
“He will be sorely missed by all the American sports fans who have invited John into their living rooms,” he added.
Fred Godeli, product coordinator with Madden on “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football,” described Madden as an “American treasure.”
“No one loves football more than he did, and he lived to make it better every day,” said Gaudelli He said. “It was a great honor to work with him and share a friendship that has lasted 20 years. Like football fans everywhere, I will miss him very much.”
Madden survivors include his wife, Virginia, and his two sons, Joseph and Michael. It was the 62nd wedding anniversary of John and Virginia Madden two days before his death.
The NFL said information about a memorial service will be released when it becomes available.
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