John Madden Passes Away

Former Oakland Raiders head coach John Madden
Former Oakland Raiders head coach John Madden
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 17 - Hall of Fame-caliber coach. Hall of Fame-caliber broadcaster. And developer of the greatest sports video game of all time. John Madden has passed away, age 85.

From 1969 to 1978, Madden's Oakland Raiders went 103-32-7, a .759 winning percentage that tops Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, Sean McVay, and all of your other favorite coaches. (In NFL history, he is only topped by the .784 mark of Guy Chamberlin, whose last team played nearly a century ago.) But that doesn't come close to capturing his influence on the league. I'm probably not a professional football writer without John Madden. Football Outsiders may not exist without John Madden. His influence behind the mic and as the innovator of sports games that go beyond button-mashing may never be truly measured. 

Everyone go read One Knee Equals Two Feet. It will make you a smarter fan, even three-plus decades after it was first published. 

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8 comments, Last at 29 Dec 2021, 8:45pm

1 Pandemic and then Holidays…

Pandemic and then Holidays have kept me away from FO, but needed to stop by and say that, although it's very frequently a mistake to think you know people you only experience through pixels on a screen, John Madden seemed like a really good man to me. I became a fan after the Darryl Stingley tragedy, and my admiration only grew. 85 years is a good run, but this makes me sad.

2 What a great life!

He contributed in every aspect of the game.  Check out the ESPN article on him re-posted today.  I didn’t know until reading it that Madden originated the practices of showing the first down line on broadcasts, and of the broadcast team meeting with the coaching staffs to prepare for a broadcast.

3 A Real Giant

Who cast an enormous shadow. I was never a Raiders fan, or a fan of six-legged turkeys, but always a Madden fan. One of a kind.

4 I watch football - not just…

I watch football - not just the Bills, but virtually any game that's on - because of him and Summerall. A true legend in every sense of the word.

5 I wasn't able to see the new…

I wasn't able to see the new documentary that Fox aired on Christmas Day, but I loved seeing all the preview clips of some of the NFL's biggest stars of the past few decades talking about how much John Madden meant to them, and what a thrill it was to know he was calling their games. And you could see how tickled Madden himself was by their responses. 

6 John Madden 1976 Raiders of…

John Madden 1976 Raiders of announcers. Made games fun to listen to announcer along weiht being fun watching thw games. 


"All Madden" prgram shwon last week was tremendous. Good thign for many here to watch. 


First two Madden books, _"Hey, Wait a Minute (I wrote a book!)" and "One Knee Equals Two Feet" excellent booksk about football things. Tow of my favorite football books of all time. 

did play the first few Madden game s on Sega Genesis in early 1990s. then swtiched to PlayStation and then PS2 and then stoppped playign video games around 2008. Had stopped playing Madden fraanchise around 2004. 


 Excllent coach. Got Raiders over hump in 1976.

7 tremendous man

After the Stingley injury, John Madden was the individual who showed the most attention to him - hospital visits, keeping in touch, etc.  The Patriots were on the bus to the airport while Madden went immediately to the hospital.  I think the severity of the injury was a major factor in his decision to retire as a coach, when it would be fair to say he was at the top of the game.

As a color commentator, he was the best.  He brought a unique ability to empathize with all the big guys who play the game while still understanding all the strategy at the highest level.  We were lucky to have him.

8 Multidimensional talent

And a fundamentally decent man. 

we are all better for having had him in our lives