Born in Minnesota in 1936, Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden began his coaching career in 1960. He was named head coach of the Oakland Raiders at age 32 and recorded a win in Super Bowl XI before stepping down from his post following the 1978 season. Madden then embarked on a highly successful career as a broadcaster, his popularity boosted by his exposure as a commercial pitchman and face of the Madden NFL video-game franchise. Madd retired from the broadcast booth in 2009.
Early Years and Career
John Earl Madden was born on April 10, 1936, in Austin, Minnesota, but primarily grew up in Daly City, California. A three-sport star at Jefferson High School, he was recruited to play football at the University of Oregon, but soon transferred to the College of San Mateo. Madden eventually settled at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where his performance as an offensive and defensive linesman spurred the team to an 18-2 record during his two seasons.
In 1958 Madden was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 21st round of the NFL Draft, but a serious knee injury ended his playing career during his rookie year, and he returned to Cal Poly to earn to earn a bachelor's degree in education in 1959 and his master's in 1961. Meanwhile, he joined the coaching staff at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California, in 1960, earning a promotion to head coach in 1962. He then moved to San Diego State University, with the teams notching an impressive 26-4 record during his three years as defensive coordinator.
In 1967, Madden returned to professional football as the linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders. After just two seasons, he was named the team's head coach at age 32.
More lenient than the famed disciplinarians of the era—such as Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers—Madden nevertheless demanded accountability from his men, and got results. The Raiders recorded a stellar 12-1-1 record in 1969, notching the first of seven division titles during Madden's tenure. His 1976 team, which featured future Hall of Famers Ken Stabler, Art Shell and Gene Upshaw, went 13-1 before defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
His health suffering from the demands of his position, Madden retired from coaching after the 1978 season. He finished with a 103-32-7 regular season record, good for the highest winning percentage of any coach with at least 100 career victories.
Following his retirement as a coach, in 1979 Madden joined the CBS football broadcasting team, and over the following three decades he became one of the most celebrated analysts on television. His obvious enthusiasm for the sport appealed to even the most casual fans, and viewers came to love his signature touches, among them a declarative "Boom!" when describing a big play. The selection of players for his "All-Madden" team and gushing over his Thanksgiving turducken became a staple of his telecasts every autumn.
The popular broadcaster became the best-selling author of such titles as Hey Wait a Minute (I Wrote a Book!) (1984) and All Madden (1996), and a commercial pitchman for Miller Beer, Ace Hardware and other brands. He also became the face of the wildly successful video-game franchise Madden NFL, which has sold more than 100 million units since its inception in 1988.
Madden remained a weekly fixture on television through his moves to FOX in 1994, to ABC in 2002 and finally to NBC in 2006. That year, he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a reminder of his earlier accomplishments to younger fans who knew him solely for his broadcasting fame.
Resisting pleas that he stay on in a part-time role, in April 2009 Madden announced his retirement. His broadcasting replacement, Cris Collinsworth, was among the many who heaped praise on the 16-time Emmy winner, noting, "Without question, he is the greatest sports analyst of all time."
Madden remains closely tied to football as co-chair of the NFL's player safety advisory panel and chair of the coaches subcommittee to the competition committee. He has also gone into business with his two sons through the ownership of multiple hotels, a vineyard and other real estate near his home in Pleasanton, California.
In December 2015, the football legend underwent major heart surgery, but went on to make a full recovery, celebrating his 80th birthday in April 2016.
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!