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John Madden, NFL Coach and Broadcaster, Dies at 85

Published by: Carolyn Brooks Fleming on Dec 30, 2021.

John Madden, the beloved NFL coach and broadcaster, died on December 28, 2021. He was 85.

Madden played football for Cal Poly in the late 1950s and was even drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, but an injury derailed his career as a player. He went on to coach at a junior college in California and San Diego State.

Famously, Madden coached the Oakland Raiders for ten years, which included seven AFC title games and a Super Bowl win in the 1976 season. He once said, “The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else.” His win percentage as head coach was .759, the highest for any coach in NFL history with a minimum of 100 games. He retired from coaching when he was 42, partly because he had a fear of flying.

“Boom!” Madden’s fame grew after he began his broadcasting career in 1979. He covered games for CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC while entertaining and educating football fans. In Madden’s 1984 book, “Hey, Wait a Minute! (I Wrote a Book!),” he wrote, “For me, TV is really an extension of coaching.” Unfortunately, his fear of flying continued throughout his career, so he traveled from venue to venue in his own bus. Madden retired from NFL broadcasting in 2009 with a trophy case containing 16 Emmy Awards.

Gamers know him as the face of the Madden football video game franchise, distributed by EA Sports for more than three decades. Quarterback Joe Montana turned down an offer to front the series back in 1988 because he already had an endorsement deal with Atari. Too bad for Montana; great for Madden and his many fans.

Madden’s career took several turns, but he insisted, “I’m a coach, always been a coach.”

Each year, Madden awarded a turducken — a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, with layers of stuffing in between — to a top player in whichever Thanksgiving game he called that year. Consider honoring Madden next Thanksgiving by roasting this special poultry treat. Of course, after a meal of turducken, you’ll want to play Madden football and snooze, in whichever order you prefer.

Madden’s cause of death has not been reported. He is survived by his wife Virginia and two sons.

Check out these inspirational quotes from John Madden.