NFL legend John Madden unexpectedly passed away Tuesday morning. The Hall of Fame coach, broadcaster and video game creator was 85 years old.
Madden is one the most influential figures in NFL history. His highly successful coaching career with the Raiders earned him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Madden also enjoyed a highly-decorated 30-year broadcasting career that included 11 Super Bowls as a color analyst. He formed an iconic broadcasting partnership with Pat Summerall, as the two called eight Super Bowls together. Madden, who famously traveled to games in his “Madden Cruiser,” was also the creator of the iconic video game that bears his name.
“On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Virginia, Mike, Joe and their families,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “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.”
While he could have been enshrined much earlier as a contributor, Madden insisted that if he ever received Hall of Fame induction, it would be for his work as an NFL coach. Madden got his wish nearly three decades after he coached his final game. Madden’s bust sits alongside other legendary coaches that includes contemporaries such as Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, Hank Stram, Paul Brown, Bud Grant and Don Shula. It also sits alongside the bust of Madden’s coaching idol, Vince Lombardi, who Madden coached against as an assistant on Oakland’s staff during Green Bay’s win in Super Bowl II, Lombardi’s final game on the sideline.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Coach Madden,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “Few, if any, have had as great an impact on the sport of professional football on so many different levels as Coach Madden. He was first and foremost a coach. He was a coach on the field, a coach in the broadcast booth and a coach in life.
“He was dearly loved by millions of football fans worldwide. While it’s a very sad day, it’s also a day we should celebrate the life of a man who brought joy through the game of football to millions.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Madden’s wife, Virginia; their sons, Joe and Mike; and the entire Madden family during this difficult time. The Hall of Fame will forever guard Coach Madden’s legacy. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in his memory.”
Madden compiled a .759 winning percentage as the Raiders coach, the highest percentage in league history among coaches that have won 100 games. During his 10 seasons as the Raiders head coach, Madden led Oakland to the playoffs eight times. The Raiders never had a losing season under Madden, who posted a 103-32-7 record as Oakland’s coach. Madden coached in iconic games that included the “Immaculate Reception,” “Ghost to the Post,” “Sea of Hands” and the “Holy Roller.”
“The Raiders Family is deeply saddened by the passing of the legendary John Madden,” the Raiders said in a statement. “Few individuals meant as much to the growth and popularity of professional football as Coach Madden, whose impact on the game both on and off the field was immeasurable.”
Madden coached a bevy of Hall of Fame players that includes Ken Stabler, Fred Biletnikoff, George Blanda, Dave Casper, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Jim Otto, Bob Brown, Willie Davis, Ted Hendricks, Ron Mix, and Ray Guy. Cliff Branch, a star receiver under Madden, is a senior finalist for induction in 2022. Madden was presented into the Hall of Fame by former Raiders owner Al Davis, who in 1969 hired the then-32-year-old Madden to be his coach.
The Raiders appeared in seven AFC title games under Madden that included five straight from 1973-77. And after falling short in his first five AFC title games, Madden and the Raiders finally broke through in 1976. After a 13-1 regular season, the Raiders dethroned the Steelers — the team that defeated Oakland in the previous two AFC title games — to punch their first ticket to the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XI, the Raiders dominated the Vikings behind a punishing rushing attack and equally devastating defense. Oakland received an MVP performance from Biletnikoff, who set up three of the Raiders’ four offensive touchdowns. The Raiders won 32-14, and Madden and the Raiders were champions for the first time.
“They can never take it away from you,” Madden said of his Super Bowl win. “Maybe the fact that we chased it so long made it bigger to us. It was the greatest feeling in the world. There’s nothing that can beat it.”