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The legend of John Madden: 1936-2021

One of the most recognized names in the NFL and face of one of the most influential video games in history, John Madden’s legend live on after his death.


John Madden’s name is one of the most well-known in all of the NFL, and he didn’t even play professionally. It wasn’t his playing that made him such a legend. It was his coaching abilities, his broadcast personality and charismatic explanations of the games, and of course, for being the face, voice, and namesake behind one of the most influential video games in history. 

The legend passed away on Tuesday, December 28 at the age of 85 years old. Let's take a look back at how he became one of the most famous names in the NFL.

Madden’s short stint as a player in the NFL

Though Madden was a talented football player, his stint in the NFL didn’t last long. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958 in the 21st round. Unfortunately, during training camp, he suffered a career-ending knee injury before he got a chance to ever even play in the NFL.

Segue into coaching

With playing out of the question, Madden started to watch the films and study and learn about how to coach football. He got his chance to do so in 1960 as an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College and was promoted to head coach just two years later. He was then hired a the defensive assistant coach at San Diego State until 1966. His success with college teams led him to be hired as the Oakland Raiders linebacker coach and shortly after, head coach.

With the Raiders, he won one Super Bowl, never had a single losing season, and became the youngest coach to reach 100 career regular-season victories (in ten seasons, at 42 years old). He remains the coach with the most wins in Raiders history.

He began to experience burnout and developed an ulcer in 1978, so he decided to formally retire in 1979 after the Raiders failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Not done being influential yet

After his coaching career came to an end, that was just the beginning of Madden’s influence in the NFL. He joined CBS as a commentator in 1979 and became their top broadcaster by 1981. While broadcasting with CBS, he called five Super Bowls and coined several catch phrases, making him a mainstay in the business. He left CBS in 1994 and later joined Fox, ABC, and NBC. He finally retired as a commentator in 2008 and had received 16 Emmy Awards.

The face and name of “Madden”

While Madden was in the midst of his broadcasting career, EA Sports came out with a video game that was created to educate people on the game of football. Madden lent his voice and name to the game and became the face of the video game, which took off in popularity since its release in 1990. It remains popular today and is the only video game officially licensed by the NFL.

Madden was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 to recognize all his achievements in the game of football in the NFL.


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