The football world has lost one of its most famous figures, John Madden. Madden, the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 1969-78 and a renowned broadcaster for all of CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC from 1979-2008, passed away Tuesday morning. He was 85. Here’s the NFL statement on his passing:
Sad news: NFL legend John Madden has died. He was 85. pic.twitter.com/ztdrLWmok4
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 29, 2021
Tributes to Madden have poured in from countless corners, illustrating the incredible amount of people he touched across generations. And Madden did so in many different ways; he was a successful head coach with the Raiders, going 103-32-7 in the regular season and winning Super Bowl XI in January 1977, then found perhaps even more success as a broadcaster, and then connected with a new generation still with the video game that bears his name.
After retiring from coaching in January 1979, citing burnout, Madden joined CBS for the 1979-80 NFL season. He started on some of their less-prominent teams, but was elevated to the top team alongside Pat Summerall in 1981. He would call eight Super Bowls with Summerall, five on CBS and three on Fox (where the two of them moved in 1994), and also worked alongside the likes of Vin Scully and Verne Lundquist when Summerall was busy elsewhere. Summerall retired after the February 2002 Super Bowl, and Madden then went to ABC alongside Al Michaels for the 2002-05 seasons, then went to NBC alongside Michaels for the 2006-08 seasons.
Madden’s move to NBC made him not only the first sportscaster to work for all four major U.S. networks, but the first person to call a Super Bowl on each of those networks. He retired from broadcasting following the February 2009 Super Bowl, but made an amazing impact on the profession with everything from Telestrator and chalkboard use to a focus on line play to passionate commentary. Here’s a tribute video NBC put together on him ahead of the 2009 season, the first NFL season in three decades without him in the booth:
Madden also made plenty of other impacts, including with his early decision to lend his name, voice, and creative input to Electronic Arts’ Madden series of NFL games. EA founder Tripp Hawkins first approached Madden about that in 1984, but the first game (John Madden Football) didn’t come out until 1988, and Madden’s push for more realism was a big part of that. The series has become one of the best-selling video games ever, passing 130 million copies in 2018. Madden also was known for his All-Madden team, his best-selling books, and more. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, and is pictured above with his bust that year.
Madden’s wide-ranging impact on the NFL and on the whole football world was the subject of the recent Fox Sports documentary All Madden. That documentary will be available for streaming on ESPN+, Peacock, and Tubi on Jan. 3. Here’s a trailer for that:
Our thoughts go out to Madden’s family, friends, and everyone else impacted by his passing.
[Photo from Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary]