NFL Hall of Fame member and broadcasting icon John Madden died just two days after celebrating his 62nd wedding anniversary on December 28, 2021 unexpectedly at the age of 85.  No official cause of death was given.

A Super Bowl winning coach, Madden was best known for his ability to explain the game during his broadcasts so that anyone could understand what was happening.  He made the telestrator famous and added his own expressions like BOOM and DOINK to play calls.

Known almost as much for his broadcasting was the annual Thanksgiving Day games and the Tur-duck-in – a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey.

He wasn’t adverse to lending his face or voice to commercials selling numerous items from beer to restaurants.

Electronic Arts had created a new video football game and asked Madden if he would help.  He said yes, and after over 100 million copies sold, he is also known as the video football guy.  He even lent his voice to an episode of “The Simpsons”.

Claustrophobic and afraid of heights, Madden refused to fly and had a custom made bus known as the Madden Cruiser that he used to travel the country.

Coaching the Oakland Raiders, Madden had a 10 season record of 103 wins with 32 losses and seven ties.  His .759 winning percentage has never been topped in the NFL with coaches of at least 100 wins. 

A knee injury prevented Madden from ever playing a down in the NFL but he brought his skills and knowledge to the sidelines where he excelled.  Madden retired from coaching after only 10 years at the age of 42.  It was then that he entered the broadcast booth where he earned 16 Emmy Awards.  He also earned the NSAA National Sportscaster of the Year award and the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.  Covering eleven Super Bowl games, at one time, Madden worked for all four of the major broadcast networks working with a number of partners including Pat Summerall and Al Michaels

Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels once spoke on Madden saying, “no one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant and more enjoyable to watch and listen to than John.”

Calling himself a coach first, Madden viewed his broadcast work as an extension of that coaching.

Madden also authored a number of books including “Hey, Wait a Minute! (I Wrote a Book!)”, “One Knee Equals Two Feet: (And Everything Else You Need to Know About Football)”, “One Size Doesn’t Fit All”, “The First Book of Football”, and “All Madden: Hey, I’m Talking Pro Football”.

John Earl Madden was born on April 10, 1936 in Daly City, California.  He played on both sides of the ball at California Polytechnic State University and earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the school.  Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, a knee injury ended his pro football career even before it started.  He began his coaching career at Hancock Junior College before becoming the defensive coordinator at San Diego State.  And then Raiders owner Al Davis called and Madden began working for the Raiders as the linebackers coach in 1967 and became the head coach just one year later at the age of 32.

Madden is survived by his wife of over 60 years Virginia, and sons Joseph and Michael.

feature photo credit: John Madden in 2007.jpg