John Madden dies at age 85: NFL legend’s career timeline from player to Hall of Fame coach, broadcaster

The NFL lost one of its greatest legends on Tuesday with the unexpected passing of John Madden, 85, the retired Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster. But Madden’s legacy will live on. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said it best Tuesday, in memory of John Madden used to be football — an icon of the sport, a mentor of the game, a voice for generations.

Here’s a timeline of Madden’s career as an industry titan:

College days

Born in Minnesota and raised in California, Madden played in high school football before playing offensive and defensive lines at the College of San Mateo. He eventually got a scholarship from Oregon along with friend and future USC and Rams coach John Robinson, bounced back to Grays Harbor College after a knee injury resulted in a red shirt season, and eventually ended up at Cal Poly, where he earned all conference honors as Intercept an offensive.

Drafted for the NFL

The Eagles drafted Madden in the 21st round of the 1958 draft, two years before Philadelphia won the NFL Championship, but a separate knee injury in training camp ended his career before it started. Madden later revealed that he developed an affinity for teaching football by studying film with then-Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin while injured.

First coaching appearances

Madden’s first job came in 1960 at Allan Hancock College, a community college in Santa Maria, California. After two years as an assistant, he was promoted to head coach and led the team from 1962-1963. With his name on the card, San Diego called State in 1964 and named him defensive coordinator — a position he held from 1964-1966 under future College Football Hall of Famer Don Coryell.

Stardom with the Raiders

Then based in Oakland as part of the yet-to-be-merger AFL, the Raiders hired Madden as their linebackers coach in 1967, and he helped the team advance to Super Bowl II in its freshman year. In 1969, after the resignation of head coach John Rauch, Madden was already at the top of the Al Davis staff, becoming the NFL’s youngest head coach at age 32. Everything about him was great—his size, his personality, his success—in the ensuing decade (1969-1978) that he served as head coach.

Madden went 12-1-1 in his first year with the Raiders, making the first of seven career trips to the AFC Championship (AFL in 1969). He finally crossed the line in 1976 and led the 13-1 Raiders to Super Bowl XI, where his club defeated Bud Grant’s Vikings for the franchise’s first Lombardi trophy. He retired after the 1978 season and had never had a losing season, not to mention being the youngest coach to have a total of 100 wins and a career record of 103-32-7. His 0.759 win rate is the highest ever among head coaches with at least 100 wins.

Go to broadcast

Madden wasted no time transitioning from the sidelines to the booth and joined CBS in 1979 as a color commentator. He became the network’s top color man alongside Pat Summerall in 1981, winning five Super Bowls. His excitable personality and signature catchphrases – “Boom!” — helped him become a mainstay in the company, and he stayed with CBS until 1994, when he switched to Fox for a lucrative deal that saw him name three more Super Bowls. After Fox (1994-2001), Madden teamed up with Al Michaels for “Sunday Night Football” on ABC (2002-2005) and NBC Sports (2006-2008) before retiring. He ended his television career as a 16-time Emmy Award winner.

The face of ‘Madden’

During Madden’s foray into broadcasting, he lent his name, voice and likeness to EA Sports’ now-famous video game series “Madden NFL.” Featuring Madden’s color commentary and simulated playbooks, the game debuted in 1988 and has been released annually since 1990. It remains the only officially licensed NFL video game series.

Hall of Fame

Madden’s all-time achievements were solidified with a gold jacket and induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

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