Coached by the maverick Oakland Raiders, Madden collected a stellar regular season record 103-32-7 and led his team to victory in the Super Bowl after the 1976 season.
But the fear of flying helped in an early retirement from training.
He became an even more influential figure after he stopped training at the age of 42, enjoying the millions who followed NFL football. It was also the name behind the popular sports video game “Madden NFL Football”.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Madden, known in the Bay Area for his legacy with the Conquistadors, went to Jefferson High School in Daly City.
With his death, the Bay Area lost one of them.
Video: The Gulf region mourns the loss of local citizen John Madden
In Daly City, Madden and high school classmate Don Delpon dominated.
“We were part of a group that played three major sports at the time,” Delpon told ABC7 News. Football, Baseball and Basketball.
Delpon gave us a glimpse into his Jefferson High School yearbook. He is photographed wearing a shirt bearing the number 34. Madden is shown wearing the number 54.
Although the two lost contact, Delpon said he couldn’t shake Madden’s outgoing, fun-loving spirit.
Related: The world of professional sports thanks late NFL star John Madden for his legacy and inspiration in football and beyond
“The more I think about everything he has contributed and achieved in the sport of football and beyond… It is a very sad day,” he said. “And this is a huge loss for the Gulf region.”
For honorary KCBS Radio presenter Stan Banger, he and Madden exchanged text messages recently on Monday.
“It was a relationship that I had no business in,” Bonger said. “I’m just a guy on the radio and that’s John Madden.”
Bonger said he made his first broadcast with Madden in the summer of 2000. And in the years since, the couple’s live morning calls have become a favorite with listeners.
“John was very important to football, but he was more than important – I think our sense of community,” said Bonger. “What it took me about 20 years to do these regular podcasts with John was that he cared so much about everyone. If you were in John’s orbit, he’d want to know about you.”
Bonger went on to describe Madden as such a force. He said that if there was a “Mount Rushmore” for football or broadcasting, Madden would be offered both.
“I still have to use the present tense because to me, John is still a part of me and a part of all of us. John was a Bay Area guy who didn’t have to live one dream, but two, three, four dreams,” Bonger continued.
Related: NFL Hall of Fame coach, broadcast icon John Madden dies at 85
Madden’s dreams opened doors for others.
Former Raiders player George Atkinson attributed his career to coach Madden.
“He was the one who picked me up at the airport,” Atkinson told ABC7 News. “And we were driving back to Santa Rosa from San Francisco. We had an incredible conversation and he was basically responsible for building the team.”
Atkinson added, “I was shocked by John’s death. I could never have thought of him as absent from this universe, because his existence was so, so great.”
Madden retired in Pleasanton. He spent several years as a co-host of a charity bocce ball tournament.
After his death on Tuesday, residents focused on the legacy he left behind.
“He’s just such an iconic character,” Mike Dixon shared. “I mean, he’s done a lot for the game — there’s an NFL game about him.”
San Ramon resident Richard Gerlach added, “I’m not a fan of the Oakland Ryder, but I’m a fan of John Madden. He was a great coach and would go down in history.”
Those who knew him say that not only has his career been legendary, but the friendship he made along the way as well.
“He was a friend before he became a coach,” says John Herrera, a former CEO of Readers. “It was always fun to be around.”
“No one loves football more than a coach,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
He went on to say, “It was football. It was a great sounding board for me and many others. There will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for everything he did in making football and the NFL what it is today.”
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