John Madden

Last updated

John Madden
John Madden in 2007.jpg
Madden in 2007
Personal information
Born: (1936-04-10) April 10, 1936 (age 85)
Austin, Minnesota
Career information
High school: Jefferson
(Daly City, California)
College: Cal Poly
NFL Draft: 1958  / Round: 21 / Pick: 244
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Win-loss record:103–32–7
Winning %:76.3
Playoff record:9–7
Overall record:112–39–7
Coaching stats at PFR

John Earl Madden (born April 10, 1936) is an American former football coach and sportscaster. He won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and after retiring from coaching became a well-known color commentator for NFL telecasts. In 2006, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his coaching career. He is also widely known for the long-running Madden NFL video game series he has endorsed and fronted since 1988. Madden worked as a color analyst for all four major networks: CBS (1979–1993), Fox (1994–2001), ABC (2002–2005), and NBC (2006–2008). Madden retired from broadcasting after the 2008 NFL season to spend more time with his family. [1] He has also written several books and has served as a commercial pitchman for various products and retailers.


Early life

John Madden was born in Austin, Minnesota, to Earl Russell Madden and Mary Margaret (née Flaherty) Madden. His father, an auto mechanic, moved the Madden family to Daly City, California, a city immediately south of San Francisco, when John was young. [2] He attended Catholic parochial school with John Robinson [3] at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, [4] graduating in 1950, [5] and then Jefferson High School, graduating in 1954. [6] [7] [8] [9]

Playing career

A football star in high school, Madden initially played one season at the College of San Mateo, [10] in 1954, [11] before he was given a football scholarship to the University of Oregon, [11] [12] [13] studying pre-law, and playing football with boyhood friend John Robinson. [14] He was redshirted because of a knee injury and had a knee operation. Then he attended the College of San Mateo [15] in 1955, [11] [16] then Grays Harbor College playing in the fall of 1956, [17] before transferring to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he played both offense and defense for the Mustangs in 1957 and 1958 [18] [19] while earning a BS in Education in 1959 and an MA in Education in 1961. [20] [21] He won all-conference honors [22] at offensive tackle, and was a catcher on Cal Poly's baseball team. [11] Madden was drafted in the 21st round (244th overall) by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in 1958, but in his first training camp suffered an injury on his other knee, [23] ending his playing career before he ever got a chance to play professionally. [18] [12]

Coaching career

College coaching

Madden recounted how he became involved with coaching:

I got hurt in my rookie year with the Philadelphia Eagles - a knee injury - and I couldn't play. While I was rehabbing, Norm Van Brocklin would be watching films and would explain what was happening. I ended up with a degree in teaching and my love for football meshed with teaching. [24]

In 1960, he became an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, and was promoted to head coach in 1962. Following the 1963 season, he was hired as a defensive assistant coach at San Diego State, where he served through 1966. During that final campaign, the 1966 Aztecs were ranked among the top small colleges in the country. While at San Diego State, Madden coached under Don Coryell, whom Madden credits as being an influence on his coaching and who he feels will one day be included in the Hall of Fame. [18]

Professional coaching with the Oakland Raiders

Building on that success, Madden was hired by Al Davis as linebackers coach for the AFL's Oakland Raiders in 1967, putting him in the Sid Gillman coaching tree. He helped the team reach Super Bowl II that season. A year later, after Raiders head coach John Rauch resigned to take the same position with the Buffalo Bills, Madden was named the Raiders' head coach on February 4, 1969, becoming, at the age of 32, professional football's youngest head coach to that time. According to former Raiders coach Dennis Allen, John Madden was arguably the best Oakland Raiders coach in the history of the team.

Madden's Raiders reached and lost five AFC Championship games in seven years, which left the Raiders with the same image that the Dallas Cowboys had previously had—as a team unable to "win the big one." Despite a 12–1–1 mark in 1969, the team lost 17–7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the final American Football League championship game. Three years later, what appeared to be a last-minute victory over the Steelers instead became a part of football lore when Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" gave Pittsburgh a 13–7 win. Then, in 1974, after defeating the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins 28-26 in dramatic fashion, the Raiders lost to the Steelers 24-13 in the AFC Championship game. In 1975, the Raiders went 11–3 and lost again to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game by a score of 16–10.

In 1976, the Raiders went 13–1 in the regular season, and escaped the first round of the playoffs with a dramatic and controversial victory 24-21 over the New England Patriots. In the second round of the playoffs they defeated the Steelers 24-7 for the AFC Championship. On January 9, 1977, Madden's Raiders finally captured their first Super Bowl with a convincing 32–14 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Raiders lost the AFC Championship Game in 1977 20-17 to the Denver Broncos. After the Raiders failed to qualify for the postseason in 1978, Madden announced his retirement on January 4, 1979, due to an increasingly deteriorating ulcer condition and occupational burnout. [25]

Among Madden's accomplishments as a head coach were winning a Super Bowl, and becoming the youngest coach to reach 100 career regular-season victories, a record he compiled in only ten full seasons of coaching at the age of 42. Madden is still the coach with the most wins in Raiders history.

Madden never had a losing season as a head coach. His overall winning percentage, including playoff games, ranks second in league history. Madden achieved his record during a period that included head coaches Tom Landry, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, and Bud Grant, who are generally regarded as the top coaches of that era. [26]

Head coaching record

TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
OAK 1969 1211.8931st in AFL Western11.500Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFL Championship
OAK 1970 842.6431st in AFC West11.500Lost to Baltimore Colts in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1971 842.6432nd in AFC West
OAK 1972 1031.7501st in AFC West01.000Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in Divisional Round
OAK 1973 941.6791st in AFC West11.500Lost to Miami Dolphins in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1974 1220.8571st in AFC West11.500Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1975 1130.7861st in AFC West11.500Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1976 1310.9291st in AFC West301.000 Super Bowl XI champions
OAK 1977 1130.7862nd in AFC West11.500Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Championship Game
OAK 1978 970.5632nd in AFC West



From 1979 through 2008, Madden worked as a color commentator/analyst on NFL games for all four major American television networks.

CBS Sports

After working lower-profile contests for CBS during his years, he was elevated to the network's top football broadcasting duo with Pat Summerall in 1981, replacing Tom Brookshier. Prior to teaming with Summerall on CBS, Madden was paired with a variety of announcers, such as Dick Stockton, Frank Glieber and Gary Bender. The team of Madden and Summerall would go on to call eight Super Bowls together (five for CBS and three for Fox). On occasions in which Summerall was unavailable (during the CBS years, Summerall was normally scheduled to commentate on the U.S. Open tennis tournament during the early weeks of the NFL season), Madden would team with the likes of Vin Scully [27] and subsequently, Verne Lundquist. On their final CBS telecast together (the NFC Championship Game on January 23, 1994), Madden told Summerall that while CBS may no longer have the NFL (for the time being, as CBS would eventually regain NFL rights in 1998 by outbidding NBC for the rights to AFC telecasts), at least they have the memories. On ABC's final Monday Night Football telecast in 2005, Madden used a similar choice of words.

Fox Sports

When the Fox Network gained the rights to NFC games in 1994, CBS employees became free agents. Madden was the biggest star in football broadcasting, and Fox, ABC, and NBC made offers higher than the $2 million a year maximum for sportscaster salaries; NBC's owner General Electric offered to make Madden its "worldwide spokesman", and GE Rail would build for him a luxury train. After he almost joined ABC, [28] Madden and Summerall joined Fox's NFL coverage, [29] giving the network credibility to broadcast what Rupert Murdoch called "the crown jewel of all sports programming in the world". Madden's contract paid him more annually than any NFL player. [28] However, Fox was reportedly losing an estimated $4.4 billion on its NFL contract for the eight-year deal it signed in 1998, and it had been trying to cut programming costs as a result. Madden's Fox contract would have been worth $8 million for 2003. [30] His last job at Fox was for Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002.

ABC Sports

In 2002, Madden became a commentator on ABC's Monday Night Football , working with longtime play-by-play announcer Al Michaels. Madden reportedly made $5 million per year. [30]

NBC Sports

In 2005, Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports, announced that Madden would do color commentary for NBC's Sunday night NFL games beginning with the 2006 season, making him the first sportscaster to have worked for all of the "Big Four" U.S. broadcast television networks. Madden also reached the milestone of calling the Super Bowl on all of the "Big Four" broadcast networks when he appeared on the 2009 broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII. On October 13, 2008, NBC announced that Madden would not be traveling to the October 19 Sunday Night Football Seattle SeahawksTampa Bay Buccaneers game in Tampa, Florida, marking the end of Madden's 476-weekend streak of consecutive broadcast appearances. Madden, who travels by bus, decided to take the week off because he had traveled from Jacksonville to San Diego, and would have had to go back to Florida before returning to his Northern California home. Madden was replaced by Football Night in America studio analyst Cris Collinsworth for the game, [31] and returned for the following telecast on November 2, 2008, in Indianapolis (until 2010 the NFL did not schedule Sunday night games for one week in October, so as not to overlap with the World Series taking place roughly around the same time). Madden called his final game on February 1, 2009, for Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Madden announced his official retirement from the broadcasting booth on April 16, 2009. [1] He was replaced by former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth. [29]


John Madden got his start in broadcasting calling in to longtime San Francisco radio personality "The Emperor" Gene Nelson's show on station KYA in the 1970s while coach of the Raiders. He followed Nelson when he moved to station KSFO, and the call-ins continued even after Madden's coaching retirement. After Nelson's abrupt retirement in 1994, Madden began making appearances on KNBR. [32] In 1997, he began calling in to radio station KCBS 5 days a week (at 8:15 a.m. Pacific Time). This continued through Thanksgiving 2015, when he ceased calling after heart surgery and other health concerns. He began making twice-weekly appearances on KCBS radio again in 2017, appearing Mondays and Fridays at 9:15 a.m. He stopped making regular radio call-ins in August of 2018, citing a desire to remove any obligations from his schedule. KCBS named him "Senior Investigative At-Large Correspondent", indicating that he may occasionally call in again. [33] Through the years, Madden often took on a fantasy persona, discussing how he ran the Boston Marathon the day before the event to avoid the crowds or even discussions about taking part in the Alaskan Iditarod Trails Sled Dog race. Madden has also aired sports commentaries in syndication on the Westwood One radio network in the United States.


Madden was briefly featured in the film Christine. Madden was seen coaching an American football team during a television broadcast.

Madden was also featured in the movie Little Giants . A bus full of NFL pros gets lost and happens to come across the kids looking for directions. Madden helps the team draw up the eventual game-winning play, "The Annexation of Puerto Rico", which was a version of a fumblerooski.

Madden also played himself as the broadcaster of the fictional games in the film The Replacements alongside his broadcast partner at the time Pat Summerall.

A film clip interview of Madden about De La Salle football coach Bob Ladouceur appears near the beginning of the end credits of the 2014 film When the Game Stands Tall .


Madden has appeared in a variety of radio and television commercials including Ace Hardware, Outback Steakhouse (the corporate sponsor of the Maddencruiser), [34] Verizon Wireless, Rent-A-Center, Miller Lite, Toyota, Sirius Satellite Radio and "Tough Actin" Tinactin. [35] [1] [28] In particular, the Miller beer advertisements cemented Madden's image in the public eye as a bumbling but lovable personality. [36]

Madden had a brief movie role playing himself in the 1994 youth football film Little Giants and in the 2000 film The Replacements . He appeared in a 1999 episode of The Simpsons , "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday". Madden also hosted an episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live in 1982 with musical guest Jennifer Holliday. As well, Madden was featured in the Irish band U2's music video for the song "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of". In the video, Madden is commenting on a fake football game featuring Paul Hewson as the kicker who misses a short kick to win the game. He makes a similar appearance in the video for Paul Simon's 1972 single "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard", [37] in which he attempts to teach football fundamentals to a group of kids playing a pickup game.

He has also recorded radio and television public service announcements for a number of causes, including NBC/Ad Council's The More You Know in 2009 and Vascular Cures (formerly the Pacific Vascular Research Foundation) in Redwood City, California (based on the health experiences of his wife, Virginia Madden).

To minimize travel to studios, Madden built Goal Line Productions in Pleasanton, California, [38] a facility that is now managed by his son, Joe. The facility features a 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) sound stage, one of the largest in Northern California.

Madden NFL video games

John Madden has lent his voice, personality, and name to the Madden NFL series of football video games, published by EA Sports/Electronic Arts since 1988. Entries in the series have consistently been best-sellers, to the extent that they have even spawned TV shows featuring competition between players of the games. Despite Madden's retirement as a broadcaster in 2009, he still continues to lend his name and provide creative input to the series, [39] which is so popular that he is better known as the face of Madden than as a Super Bowl-winning coach and broadcaster. [40]

Madden views the game as an educational tool. During initial planning conversations with Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins in 1984, Madden envisioned the program as a tool for teaching and testing plays. [40] [41] He stated in 2012 that Madden NFL was "a way for people to learn the game [of football] and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level". [42]


Of all those players, I think Jack Youngblood...personified the All-Madden team spirit...

—John Madden [43]

In 1984, Madden took the advice of NFL coach John Robinson—a friend of Madden since elementary school—and created the "All-Madden" team, a group of players who Madden thought represented football and played the game the way he thought it should be played. [44] Madden continued to pick the All-Madden team through the 2001 season when he left to move to ABC and Monday Night Football . Madden added his "Haul of Fame" for his favorite players, [45] he created a special 10th Anniversary All-Madden team in 1994, an All-Madden Super Bowl Team in 1997, and an All-Time All-Madden team in 2000. All Madden was also the title of Madden's third best-selling book (after Hey, Wait A Minute? I Wrote a Book and One Knee Equals Two Feet). [46]

In All Madden, Madden explained,

What does it mean to be 'All-Madden'? It's a whole range of things. For defensive linemen and linebackers, it's about Jack Youngblood playing with a busted leg, Lawrence Taylor wreaking havoc on the offense and Reggie White making the other guy wish he put a little more in the collection plate at church. It's about a guy who's got a dirty uniform, mud on his face and grass in the ear hole of his helmet. [47]

ABC Sports stated, "the All-Madden Team has become synonymous with greatness." Other NFL greats who have been on various All-Madden teams are Howie Long, Dan Hampton, Ronnie Lott, [48] Richard Dent, [48] Jackie Slater, [48] Andre Tippett, Kordell Stewart, Walter Payton, [48] Mark Bavaro, [48] and Bruce Smith.

Awards and honors

Personal life

Madden met his wife, Virginia Fields, in a bar in Pismo Beach, California, [23] marrying on December 26, 1959. They live in Pleasanton, California, and have two sons, Joseph and Michael. Joe played football at Brown University and Mike attended Harvard University, where he started as receiver on the football team. [53]

Madden's lively and flamboyant delivery has won him critical acclaim and fourteen Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Event Analyst. His announcing style is punctuated with interjections such as "Boom!", "Whap!", "Bang!" and "Doink!"' and with his use of the telestrator, a device which allows him to superimpose his light-penned diagrams of football plays over video footage. Madden's use of the telestrator helped to popularize the technology, which has become a staple of television coverage of all sports.

Madden was also known for working the annual Thanksgiving Day games for CBS and later Fox. He would award a turkey or turducken to players of the winning team. He would also award a turkey drumstick to players of the winning team during the Thanksgiving Day game, often bringing out a "nuclear turkey" with as many as eight drumsticks on it for the occasion. The drumsticks served as an odd take on the "player of the game" award. Madden stopped announcing the Thanksgiving Day games after he moved to ABC in 2002, but the tradition continued. Fox, CBS, and the NFL Network present the Galloping Gobbler, the All-Iron Award, and the Pudding Pie Award, respectively, to the game's "Most Valuable" player.

Aversion to flying

Madden's aversion to flying is well known. Two different theories have developed as to the cause.[ citation needed ] One theory relates to the October 29, 1960, Cal Poly football team plane crash that claimed the lives of sixteen players, the team's student manager, and a football booster. Having graduated from Cal Poly only two years prior, Madden lost many friends in the accident. However, it is known that Madden flew up until 1979, when he had a panic attack on a flight originating in Tampa. The details, nature and extent of this panic attack are not known. Madden, however, stated once in an interview that his fears were not about turbulence, flying, or heights, but primarily claustrophobia. [54] He also once noted that when he did fly, traveling all over the United States, it did not allow him to see anything.

During his Saturday Night Live hosting appearance in the early 1980s, a short film aired depicting Madden making the journey to New York to host SNL by train. In the mid-1980s Madden was a frequent rider on Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited ; [55] Amtrak let the famous customer use the dining car at any time. [56] However, beginning in 1987, Greyhound bus lines supplied a custom MCI 102A3 bus and drivers for three years in exchange for advertising and speaking events. The bus was originally painted in Greyhound colors and drivers had to compete for the positions. [57] Madden traveled around the country in a customized coach-bus, which he has dubbed the Madden Cruiser. The Madden Cruiser shells are manufactured by Motor Coach Industries. The coach-bus sponsors over the years have included Walker Advantage Muffler and Outback Steakhouse. [34] The most recent coach, Madden's sixth, was built in 2005.

Madden never did commentary for the Pro Bowl, which was held in Hawaii during every year of his broadcasting career. Likewise, Madden never called any preseason game held outside of North America, even when his play-by-play partner was on the telecast. Madden found an unexpected use for his bus in New York after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when he provided transportation for former ice-skating champion Peggy Fleming, whose flight home to Los Gatos, California, had been grounded. [58] In contrast to Madden's aversion to flying, his wife Virginia has taken flying lessons. [59]

See also

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Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tom Brookshier
NFL on CBS lead game analyst
Succeeded by
Phil Simms
Preceded by
NFL on Fox lead game analyst
Succeeded by
Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth
Preceded by
Dan Fouts and Dennis Miller
Monday Night Football game analyst
Succeeded by
Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser
Preceded by
NBC Sunday Night Football game analyst
Succeeded by
Cris Collinsworth
Preceded by
Paul Maguire and Phil Simms
NFL on NBC lead game analyst
Succeeded by
Cris Collinsworth