John Madden, Hall of Fame NFL Coach, Broadcaster, and the Name Behind Madden NFL Football, Dies at 85

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John Madden, the Hall of Fame NFL Coach, legendary broadcaster, and the name behind Madden NFL Football, has died at the age of 85.

As reported by NFL.com, Madden died unexpectedly on Tuesday, December 28, but no further cause has been given.

“On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Virginia, Mike, Joe and their families,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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.

“Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football. He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others. 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.”

John Madden was born in Austin, Minnesota on April 10, 1936, and quickly became a star in the world of football. He was drafted in the 21st round of the NFL draft in 1958 to the Philadelphia Eagles, but he injured his knee during his first training camp and never had the chance to play in the NFL.

While his dream of playing the NFL ended earlier than he had hoped, he quickly found a love for coaching. He began his coaching career in in 1960 as an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College and quickly assumed head coaching duties in 1962. He would move on to San Diego State before finally being hired in the NFL by Al Davis as the linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders in 1967.

In 1969, he was promoted to head coach of the Raiders and became the youngest head coach in the NFL at the time at the age of 32. Throughout his time as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Madden’s record was 103-32-7 in the regular season and 9-7 in the playoffs. He would win his first and only Super Bowl on January 9, 1977, and retired from coaching just two years later in 1979. In 2006, Madden was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

While he would have a long and successful career in broadcasting that would earn him 16 Emmy Awards, one of his other biggest claims to fame was lending his name to EA’s Madden NFL Football series.

In 1986, EA wanted to create a unique football game and its then-president Trip Hawkins, programmer Robin Atonick, and other staff members pitched the idea to John Madden on a train to a broadcast he was heading to. They quickly learned Madden was not one to give his name out willingly.

“If it isn’t 11 on 11, it isn’t real football,” Madden declared. Due to the limits of technology at the time, EA was attempting to limit the players on each side to six or seven. Madden did not care. “I’m not putting my name on it if it’s not real,” Madden said back then.

Madden would work with the team to create an authentic NFL experience for gamers around the world, from playbooks to how the game felt to play. in 1988, the first John Madden Football was released on the Apple II and began what would become one of the most successful and profitable franchises in all of gaming.

As of 2021, Madden NFL Football is the only officially licensed NFL video game series and, as of 2013, it has generated over $4 billion in sales. Since its first game, the series has sold over 250 million copies and shows no signs of stopping.

John Madden is survived by his wife, Virginia, and his two sons, Joseph and Michael.

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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

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Author: Adam Bankhurst

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