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Legendary NFL Hall Of Fame Coach John Madden Dead At 85

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NFL Hall of Fame head coach John Madden passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 85, the NFL announced.

“On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Virginia, Mike, Joe and their families,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every major network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.

“Nobody loved football more than Coach. He 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.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced by the NFL at a later date.

Madden became the face of the Oakland Raiders during his time as head coach from 1969-1978. During his tenure, the Raiders made the playoffs eight times and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 1976, defeating the Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI. Madden retired from coaching at the end of the 1978 season, compiling a 103-32-7 record.

Madden is the youngest coach to ever reach 100 career victories and is still the Raiders’ all-time winningest coach. His overall winning percentage, including playoffs, ranks second all-time. Madden took his rightful place in Canton, Ohio in 2006, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the greatest and influential coaches in the history of the NFL.

Hall of Fame Coach John Madden during opening cermonies as the Oakland Raiders defeated the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 22 to 9 at McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, California, October 22, 2006. (Photo by Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary)

The man quarterbacking Madden’s Raiders for six of those seasons was Ken Stabler. Stabler’s long-awaited NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement came in 2016, known for his time playing under Madden.

The two shared a close bond over the years, up until Stabler’s passing in 2015.

OAKLAND, CA – CIRCA 1975: John Madden head coach of the Oakland Raiders talks with quarterback Ken Stabler #12 on the sidelines during an NFL football game at the Oakland- Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. Madden coached the Raiders from 1969-78. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Tributes have rained down through Twitter, with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones describing the impact Madden had on the NFL, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Upon retiring from the game of football, Madden found his niche in another avenue: commentating. The exuberant personality of Madden was on full display alongside the great Pat Summerall, his announcing partner on CBS Sports from 1981-1994 and at FOX from 1994-2002. The two became perhaps the most iconic announcing duo in sports history, paving the way for the future.

Madden and Summerall went on to call eight Super Bowls together, with the last coming at Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3, 2002. The partnership ended after the game, with Summerall heading into retirement and Madden taking on his next challenge at ABC.

Madden found his next Summerall in the form of Al Michaels and the two teamed up to become the voices of “Monday Night Football” from 2002-05. In 2005, Madden made history, signing with NBC and becoming the first sportscaster to work for the “Big Four” networks.

Michaels followed Madden to NBC, with the two calling “Sunday Night Football” together until 2009. Their last telecast together came at Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1, 2009, Madden’s 11th Super Bowl from the booth.

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1986: CBS NFL commentator Pat Summerall (L) and NFL analyst John Madden (R) on the air prior during an NFL Football game circa 1986. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Over the course of his 30-year broadcasting career, Madden famously never flew to events. He instead rode by train, usually on an Amtrak. That was until 1987, when Madden found a new way to get around. Dubbed the “Madden Cruiser”, Madden had his own customized Greyhound bus that became a staple of his. It featured a private bathroom, a queen-sized bed, two TV’s, an entertainment center and a full kitchenette.

Because of this, Madden never announced a Pro Bowl in Hawaii. He did, however, make sure he was in transit of the premiere game on Thanksgiving every year. Enter turducken, a popular Louisiana Thanksgiving dish made famous by Madden.

You can trace it back to 1997 during a Saints-Rams game in New Orleans, the first time a turducken found its way below the nose of Madden. Consisting of turkey, chicken and duck between layers of dressing, Madden often raved about the dish during the holiday season, at one point giving a full X’s and O’s breakdown of how to eat a turducken.

To the younger generation of fans, Madden’s legacy is defined from his role in the popular gaming series, “Madden NFL.” Originally titled, “John Madden Football”, the first edition was released in 1988, with Madden lending his commentary for the game.

He was joined by Summerall as well and later Michaels until the introduction of the Xbox 360 and the PS3 in 2006. Madden’s involvement in commentary was scaled back and his last appearance in the game came in “Madden NFL 09.”

Some of the NFL’s biggest stars have appeared on the cover of the game, ranging from Barry Sanders in 2000, to Michael Vick in 2004 and Tom Brady in 2018 and 2022. Richard Sherman appeared on the cover of “Madden NFL 15”, then a member of the Seahawks. Sherman took to Twitter and called it a great honor to grace the cover.

Three days before his passing on Christmas Day, FOX Sports first aired its documentary, “ALL MADDEN”, a look behind the scenes of Madden’s coaching career. Madden also sat down with FOX Sports’ Tom Rinaldi for his first interview in more than 10 years.

FS1 will re-air the documentary Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET.

“Football is my life,” Madden said. “It’s something I say proudly. But, it’s complicated.”


Follow Nick Geddes on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes. 

Written by Nick Geddes

Nick is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Nick is a life-long sports fan who is proud to say he suffered through 15 years of Bucs futility to witness a Super Bowl victory in 2020. Nick has a passion for writing and is proud to represent OutKick. Follow me on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes.

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  1. Growing up a Redskins fan in the ’80’s and ’90’s there was nothing better than having Pat Sumerall and John Madden calling a late season NFC East tilt with something on the line. Rest in peace and now you can join your old play-by-play partner.

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