John Madden, one of the best NFL broadcasters, a decorated coach, and a former NFL player, has died aged 85. The Hall of Fame coach that took the Oakland Raiders to their first Super Bowl win in 1977, was also the most recognizable figure in NFL broadcasting, had a brief career as a player, and has a popular video game franchise named after him.
Moved to Coaching After a Brief Playing Career
Madden was born on April 10, 1936, in Austin, Minnesota. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958 as a first-round pick in the NFL draft. However, a knee injury ended his career before it even started.
But Madden didn’t give up on the NFL. He instantly started coaching and joined the Oakland Raiders as a linebacker coach in 1967. He became their head coach two years later. At 32, he was the youngest coach in NFL history.
He had a 12-1-1 record with the Raiders in his first season as a head coach, and the Raiders played some impressive football under him. In 1976, the best season in Madden’s coaching career, his team had a 13-1 regular-season record. The Raiders went on to beat the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in what turned out to be their first of three Super Bowl wins and Madden’s only Super Bowl triumph in his career.
John Madden retired a year after he won his only Super Bowl with the Raiders and after 10 years coaching the Oakland-based team. He had a .759 win percentage – the best in NFL history (coaches with 100+ games). The legendary Vince Lombardi is second on that list with a .738 win ratio.
An NFL Broadcasting Star
However, as illustrious as Madden’s career as a coach was, most NFL fans remember him for his second act in professional football – an NFL broadcasting figure. Working alongside Pat Summerall, Madden became one of the most famous NFL commentators of the 1980s and 1990s. Both NFL broadcasting legends complemented each other perfectly. Madden’s energetic approach to broadcasting worked great when combined with Summerall’s calm demeanour, and the two of them called some of the best games of that era.
After Summerall retired in 2002, Madden left Fox and joined ABC’s Monday Night Football where he called games alongside Al Michaels. Both of them later moved to Sunday Night Football on NBC.
In 2009, Madden retired from broadcasting. By then he was already the most famous NFL broadcasting figure and had won 16 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Analyst/Personality.
TV Commercials and a Popular Video Game
And it wasn’t only coaching and broadcasting that Madden excelled in. He also appeared in countless TV commercials endorsing a wide range of products. The NFL video game carrying his name was the biggest of them all.
“Madden” (the game) was first released for the Apple II in 1988 and is considered the gold standard for football video games. Both fans and professional NFL players love the game, and some professional athletes get so immersed in the game that they even complain about the ratings the game developer has given them.
Madden’s involvement with the NFL was crowned in 2006 when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of his outstanding performance and record as an Oakland Raiders coach.