John Madden is one of the most widely-known figures in NFL history for his exploits as a coach, commentator, and namesake of the most popular NFL video game franchise.
Who is the NFL legend, and how did he reach this status?
John Madden’s Legendary Coaching Career
Madden first rose to prominence for his historic exploits in 10 years as head coach of the then-Oakland Raiders.
Taking over the post ahead of the 1969 season, he led the Raiders to 10 consecutive winning seasons and never finished with fewer than eight wins. They went 12-1-1 in the regular season his first year with the franchise and notched 10 wins in 1972 before winning 11 or more games each year from 1974 through 1978.
Madden’s most successful year leading the Raiders came in 1976 as he guided them to a 13-1 mark in the regular season and a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and legendary head coach Bud Grant in Super Bowl 11. Fred Biletnikoff won the game’s MVP award.
Madden then surprisingly retired from coaching after the 1978 season as Oakland missed the playoffs for just the second time under his tutelage. The 42-year-old cited health reasons and burnout as his primary motivations for stepping away.
He finished his NFL head coaching career with an overall record of 112-39-7, including a 9-7 mark in the playoffs. That mark leaves him with a winning percentage of 75.9% in the regular season and 70.9% overall.
Madden’s regular-season winning percentage ranks second all-time among NFL coaches with 50 or more games coached. Only Guy Chamberlin, who went 58-16-7 from 1922-27 across six seasons leading four different franchises, comes in ahead of Madden in the category.
Madden’s Post-Coaching Days
However, Madden’s coaching tenure was only the start of his rise to prominence.
He joined CBS as a color commentator in 1979 and quickly worked his way up to being part of the network’s top football broadcasting duo with Pat Summerall. He remained with CBS through 1993, when the network lost its NFL rights, and its employees thus became free agents.
Madden then had stints at Fox, ABC, and NBC calling NFL games. It was during his commentary days with CBS that Madden became involved with the EA Sports NFL video game that now bears his name.
He lent his name, voice, and creative input to Electronic Arts for a series of “John Madden Football” games, which were later called “Madden NFL.” Madden’s involvement with the franchise is perhaps what he is now best known for and certainly seems likely to be his long-term legacy among the next generations.
Madden died unexpectedly on Dec. 28, 2021, at the age of 85, bringing an end to his legendary life. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
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