Facts about John Madden

John Madden died at 85 years old
Born: April 10, 1936
Best known as: The namesake of the "Madden" football video games



John Madden Biography

John Madden coached the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI and went on to become one of America’s best-known (and most enthusiastic) football announcers and the namesake of Madden NFL, one of the country’s most popular video games.

John Madden played football (on both the offensive and defensive lines) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1957 and 1958. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1959 from the school and a Masters in 1961. He began coaching after an aborted career as a professional football player — he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, but never made the active roster because of an early knee injury.

Madden had short stints coaching in California at Hancock Junior College (1960-64) and San Diego State (1964-66) before landing a job as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League in 1967. Madden became the team’s head coach in 1969 and stayed in the job through the 1978 season. His Raiders won Super Bowl XI in 1977, defeating the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 32-14.

Madden’s overall record in 10 years with the Raiders was 103-32-7, giving him the highest winning percentage of any NFL coach (just edging out legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, whose lifetime record was 105-35-6).

In 1980 Madden turned his talents to broadcasting and spent the next three decades as an NFL color commentator for CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC, becoming known for his eager exclamations of “gosh” and “boom!”, his goofy sense of humor, and what Sports Illustrated called “his big, doughy, unmade bed of a face.”

Madden also became known for his iconic Madden Cruiser, the luxury bus in which he traveled coast to coast due to his fear of flying. Madden’s amiable personality led to a career beyond the arena of football; he published several books and appeared in dozens of television commercials (most famously for Miller beer).

More significantly, he lent his name to a fast-paced home video game, Madden NFL, which was first published as John Madden Football in 1988. The game was updated each year and became the best-selling sports video game of all time. Madden served as football advisor for the game and in early years recorded all the commentary as well; over time, he became better-known for the video game than for his coaching and announcing careers.

Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a head coach in 2006. He announced his retirement from broadcasting on April 16, 2009, saying, “It’s time.”

Extra credit

John Madden was 6’4″ tall and weighed 270 pounds in 1983, according to Sports Illustrated… John Madden married the former Virginia Fields in 1959, and they remained married until his death in 2021. They had two sons, Michael (born circa 1964) and Joe (born circa 1966)… John Madden won more than a dozen Emmys for his work as a sports commentator‚Ķ The NFL’s announcement of John Madden’s death reported that he had died “unexpectedly,” but did not specify a cause… John Madden is not the same John Madden who directed the 1998 movie Shakespeare in Love.


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