Famed Raiders’ coach and NFL analyst John Madden died unexpectedly Tuesday morning at the age of 85.
In an official statement from the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell extended his condolences to Madden’s family and gave honor to the Hall of Famer’s storied career:
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 sound 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.
Madden’s impact on football was remarkable to say the least. When first brought on as head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1969, Madden was the youngest coach in the AFL. Still, he led his Raiders to the best record (12-1-1) across both the AFL and NFL. He would go on to win a Super Bowl with the team in 1976 — a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Madden retired as the Raiders’ winningest coach and still holds that distinction to this day. His .759 win percentage is the highest ever for an NFL coach with at least 100 games. Only Guy Chamberlain has a higher all-time win percentage (.784). He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Moreover, the disheveled, anti-corporate coach was a rebel and free thinker — the opposite of staid men like rival Tom Landry — who was a perfect match for owner Al Davis’ renegade style.
But Madden left and even bigger legacy in his next career. After retiring from coaching, he continued to expand the appeal of football from the broadcast booth. Madden was well-known for his insightful takes and colorful commentary in a 30-year career that ended in 2008. that helped mainstream audiences across America understand the X’s and O’s of football that much better.
His ever-recognizable exclamations of “Boom!” or his signature too obvious sayings that sounded like great wisdom:
“I always used to tell that we are here to win. And you know what, Al? When you win, you don’t lose!”
“If the quarterback throws the ball in the end zone and the wide receiver catches it, it’s a touchdown.”
Madden also became the face of the enormously popular EA Sports video game franchise of the same name that featured many of his Maddenisms. The yearly release has become a staple in any sports gamer’s library and is the greatest simulation-style football franchise of all-time.
The bombastic Madden was an active developer in the early years of the game and aimed to create a game that accurately depicted the sport and the NFL as a league.
Madden spent the final years of his life serving as an advisor to the NFL, advocating for rule changes to help improve player safety.
Just this past week, Fox Sports aired a documentary paying homage to the legend’s influence on the sport. The documentary will be available to stream on a variety of services including ESPN+ and Peacock beginning January 3.
Madden is survived by his wife of 62 years, Virginia, and two sons, Joseph and Michael.