John Madden, Hall of Fame Coach and Broadcaster, Dies at 85

In Summary

The Hall of Famer pioneered the sport of football in unparalleled ways during his days as both a coach for the Raiders and as a broadcaster.

John Madden was too cool for school, and he built the school. 

He was the blueprint of sports television analysis and a teacher who taught the average person how to speak poetically about football like Langston Hughes.  

Madden made virtual cool before virtual became everyday life. Madden is the god of all football games, which brought friends together like Friendsgiving on a random Tuesday afternoon. 

Ric Flair said it best; “To be the man, you gotta beat the man,” but there was no beating John Madden. So, the next best thing was to talk to the man. Even one of the most dynamic and singular personalities during his playing days, Randy Moss, wanted to talk to the man. 

The school of Madden was doing the unthinkable, to tell the famous Al Davis no. Madden had to show Davis “this is my team and we will win it my way.” 

“It wasn’t easy working for the Raiders and Al Davis,” said Hall of Fame former Raiders coach Tom Flores, who succeeded Madden as head coach. “That alone was a different type of journey. The one thing John did show me is how to deal with Al. I learned a lot of patience and John was not a patient man sometimes. We all learn little bits and pieces about ourselves when we coach with somebody.” 

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Oakland Raiders coach John Madden stands on the sideline during an NFL football game in October 1978. Madden, the Hall of Fame coach turned broadcaster whose exuberant calls combined with simple explanations provided a weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades, died Tuesday morning, Dec. 28, 2021, the league said. He was 85. The NFL said he died unexpectedly and did not detail a cause. (AP Photo, File)

Madden’s way led to a career spanning 10 years as the coach of the then-Oakland Raiders, finishing with the second highest win percentage (.759) of all time and a Super Bowl championship in 1976. 

Madden, 85, died on Tuesday. 

But even before his death, Madden lived a second Hall of Fame life. 

With a balled fist and a Mike Tyson jab, “BOOM!” is what the taller than life, 6-feet, 4-inch Madden yelled in the booth after a hard collision. 

BOOM! is the sudden impact he had on the lives of all around him, and it was felt around the league and around country when his passing was announced. 

“On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Virginia, Mike, Joe and their families,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every major network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Nobody loved football more than Coach.  He was football.  He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others. There will never be another John Madden, and we will forever be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today.”  

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