John Madden, the Super Bowl-winning coach of the Raiders and a legendary NFL broadcaster, died unexpectedly Tuesday morning, the league announced. He was 85.
Madden was one of the most recognizable faces of football during his broadcasting career, and lent his name to the wildly successful NFL video game series. During his tenure with the Oakland Raiders, the team never had a losing season.
“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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Virginia, Mike, Joe and their families.”
Madden was hired as the Raiders’ head coach in 1969, when he was 32, and he held the position until after the 1978 season. The team had a 103-32-7 regular season record over 10 seasons.
The Raiders made it to the playoffs eight times and won the 1977 Super Bowl, after the 1976 season.
“Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football. He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others,” Goodell said in the statement. “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.”
After retiring from pro-football, Madden became a color commentator and analyst, first at CBS in 1979, and later at Fox, ABC’s “Monday Night Football” and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”.
“No one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant and more enjoyable to watch and listen to than John,” NBC play-by-play announcer Al Michaels said at the time of Madden’s retirement.
Michaels, who worked alongside Madden on “Sunday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football,” said in a written statement Tuesday working with him was “like hitting the lottery.”
“He was so much more than just football — a keen observer of everything around him and a man who could carry on a smart conversation about hundreds and hundreds of topics,” he said.
In his broadcasting career, Madden was known for exclamations like “boom!” and a down-to-earth style and ability to explain a complicated game in terms anyone could understand.
Madden did not like flying and was known for traveling to games in a converted Greyhound bus, called the “Madden Cruiser.”
He famously helped bring the “turducken” — a chicken stuffed into a duck then stuffed into a turkey — to the nation’s attention, and would designate the “turkey leg award” for the most valuable player in the Thanksgiving game, starting in 1989.
Madden announced his retirement from broadcasting in 2009 after 30 years.
The Raiders, now in Las Vegas, said in a statement Tuesday that few people were as responsible for the popularity of professional football as Madden.
“A brilliant coach. A loyal and trusted friend. A Raider,” the team…