Thanksgiving is finally here, and with it, comes a full three-game slate of NFL football. However, this year, things will be a bit different as the NFL has decided to honor the life and career of the legendary John Madden.
Madden passed away on December 28, 2021, and although he was instrumental to the NFL for a number of reasons, arguably his biggest contributions were to the league’s celebration of Thanksgiving.
When the legendary coach and broadcaster passed away, questions about how the NFL would honor him were top of mind. Today, the NFL has elected to pull out all of the stops, and Madden will be showcased in a number of ways.
“No one cared more or contributed more to our game than John Madden,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Honoring his memory and impact on the NFL is important, and Thanksgiving Day brings all of the elements significant to John to life – family, football, food, and fun.”
NFL To Honor John Madden on Thanksgiving
Madden will always be remembered as one of the winningest coaches in NFL history, accomplishing more in 10 years with the Raiders than many do in a lifetime. And even though he retired at the young age of 42, his contributions to the league continued after that.
Only a few years after retiring from coaching, Madden entered the broadcast booth and became the voice that was synonymous with football. He called 11 different Super Bowls and broadcasted for 28 consecutive years. But it was specifically during the NFL’s Thanksgiving celebrations that Madden gave us memories that have endured decades.
Whether it be the six-legged turducken or his hilarious banter with NFL legends like Emmitt Smith and Randy Moss, Madden championed this American holiday.
“He didn’t own Thanksgiving, but it was kind of damn close, right?” said Richard Zontz, a lead NFL producer for FOX Sports. “He just took the holiday and embraced it and sort of made it his own.”
So how will the NFL honor the legacy Madden created? Before the celebrations even begin and the first kickoff takes place, Madden will already be present thanks to the day officially being referred to as the “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration.” This official title will be showcased across all three networks that are broadcasting today’s schedule – CBS, FOX, and NBC.
Additionally, when each game has come to a conclusion, the networks will choose the “Madden Player of the Game.” That player, who will be considered the MVP of their respective contests, will receive a $10,000 donation in their name to a youth or high school program of their choice via the NFL Foundation. The NFL has said that this act is to honor Madden’s passion for youth football.
Before each game, NFL fans will also hear a recording of Madden talking about Thanksgiving and what its connection means to the world of football.
Madden’s Special Logo
Not only will the ceremonies around Thanksgiving sport Madden’s name, but a special logo has been created and will be presented on NFL fields and player helmets. This decal will be different from the one the Las Vegas Raiders have currently been wearing during the season.
Instead of just his initials, we will see the iconic image of Madden being carried off the field with his first in the air. This image was taken after the Raiders won Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings. It was one of eight playoff appearances that Madden led the Raiders to from 1969-78.