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NFL Legend And Hall-Of-Famer John Madden Passes Away At 85

By Mark Solway | December 29th, 2021

RIP John Madden

Hall of Fame coach turned broadcaster John Madden died on Tuesday morning. He was 85. The NFL reported that he had died unexpectedly, and did not give details as to the cause of death.

John Madden was a unique human. A positively special guy, who forged an indelible legacy – in football, in broadcasting, and of course, in video games.


He coached the Oakland Raiders for ten years. They made it to seven AFC title games in that stretch, and finally broke through and won the Super Bowl following the 1976 season.

In his decade long tenure, he amassed an incredible regular-season record of 103-32-7. That lofty .759 winning percentage is the best ever among NFL coaches that have more than 100 games.

“Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement.

“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.”

In his first season as a head coach in the NFL, Madden went 12-1-1. The Raiders lost the AFL title game 17-7 to Kansas City.

That became Madden’s Achilles heel. He won the division title in seven of his first eight seasons, but went 1-6 in the conference title games.

They would eventually get the monkey off of their backs.

Super Bowl

The 1976 Oakland Raiders were a formidable group – one of the best football teams ever. They had greats like quarterback Ken Stabler, tight end Dave Casper, linemen Gene Upshaw and Art Shell, and wide receivers Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch. Their defense was just as loaded with Jack Tatum, John Matuszak Willie Brown, Ted Hendricks, Otis Sistrunk and George Atkinson.

They put it all together and went 13-1. Their only loss was to New England in Week 4, and they avenged that loss by beating the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs. They dispatched the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-7 in the AFC title game, to finally reach the big dance.

They outclassed Minnesota 32-14.

Super Bowl XI belonged to John Madden and the Oakland Raiders.

Madden retired from coaching two years later at just 42 years old – an age where many NFL head coaches are just getting started. He never had a single losing season.

Hall Of Fame Page


As in coaching, Madden once again forged a unique path in broadcasting that few-to-none have ever accomplished. He won an incredible 16 Emmy Awards for outstanding sports analyst. He covered eleven Super Bowls across a 30-year span from 1979-2009, and for four different networks.

America fell in love with the guy who was scared to fly, and rode a bus across the country. He was affable. He was in some ways more relatable than the game’s stars, who were now all multi-millionaires.

He became a household name because he was just a little bit different, and hugely entertaining.

The man made the Turducken into a sports award. That says so many great things, when you truly think on it.

Step out of the box?

The man never got into one.

He taught America about football with the telestrator. In fact, Madden debuted the telestrator to the world, at Super Bowl XVI in 1982.

He talked differently. He used silly phrases and interjections, like “Boom!”.

Those phrases would eventually become even more famous – immortalized even with Madden NFL Football – one of the most successful sports video games of all-time.

Video Game Guy

When he was elected to the Hall of Fame, Madden said, “People always ask, are you a coach or a broadcaster or a video game guy?”

“I’m a coach, always been a coach.”

But he was a pretty important video game guy too.


John Madden Football changed the whole damn game. Those that experienced it, know. Those that don’t, can only talk about it. In the annuls of Sports Video Games, there can be only one king, and that will always be John Madden Football.

It’s what put EA Sports in the game in the first place.

His Legacy

Despite a career arc that is a mile long, the coach-turned-broadcaster-turned-video-game-pioneer will likely be remembered for the thing that he brought to all of his interests.

His passion and his enthusiasm.

So much of it, that it inspired others.

He was larger than life. And yet always down to earth.

Rest in peace John Earl Madden. Thank you for entertaining us all.


RIP John Madden


We were writing regular weekly articles on “Madden Simulations” as far back as 2006:

Late season win in the Simulator.

Redskins vs Eagles, Madden Sim

Use the search box for even more.

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