John Madden, football legend, dies at 85

2006 NFL Pro Football Hall Of Fame Enshrinement - August 5, 2006
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John Madden, a legendary figure known to one generation as a Hall of Fame coach, another generation as the sport’s greatest announcer, and yet another generation for the video game that bears his name, has died at the age of 85.

The NFL announced Madden’s passing today.

Madden’s influence on the sport of football is impossible to overstate. He was the youngest head coach in pro football when Al Davis hired him to coach the Oakland Raiders, and he led them to a Super Bowl title while having so much success that he still has the all-time highest winning percentage among all coaches who won at least 100 games.

But as great a coach as he was, he did more for the sport after he retired from coaching. In the broadcasting booth, Madden became a sensation, not just the best broadcaster in football but one of the most popular figures in America, as famous as any movie star but as down-to-earth as any guy you’d talk about sports with at the barbershop. Everyone loved him.

And then Madden had his video game, which he didn’t just lend his name to but took an active role in developing, always insisting that it needed to be as realistic as possible. The youngest generation of football fans that can’t even remember him as a broadcaster, let alone as a coach, is still influenced by Madden’s giant presence in the sport.

Even in the final years of his life, Madden had an important role in the NFL, advising the league and advocating for rule changes that would protect players from brain injuries.

John Madden may have been the single most influential person in the history of the sport of football.

157 responses to “John Madden, football legend, dies at 85

  1. Extremely sad news. He was also an author with my favourite one being One Knee Equals Two Feet. He was always a huge presence and just a very humble and grateful human. You will surely be missed more than most.

  2. As a Raiders fan of 48 years, my heart is broken. When the Raiders were “The Raiduhs”…..RIP Coach

  3. he will absolutely be extremely missed, he will never be forgotten and my football memories mostly consist of him and Pat Summerall doing big games, often with Joe Montana. They were natural, not a gimmick

  4. That’s too bad. He was a great anouncer and I’ll always remember him and Pat Sumerall together. RIP coach.

  5. Just this past weekend I saw a commercial with him saying something like “you’re only a hall of famer if they can’t tell the story of football without you”. How fitting.

  6. Simply the best. He’s a big reason I tuned in to watch football as a kid before I even knew he used to coach. There are broadcasting savants, legends and then there was John Madden. RIP to the best.

  7. Madden and Summerall were the best. Not everyone like Madden but I guarantee everybody loved him. GOAT.

  8. One of the great characters in NFL history. The league wouldn’t be as big as it is without his contributions. RIP Coach Madden.

  9. Well damn! Maybe the most important figure in the history of the game. At Pat Summerall’s funeral You said it was the third time You said goodbye to Him. It feels like that to Football fans everywhere tonight. Love to hear what the other HOF bust are saying to yours tonight. See you in heaven Coach.

  10. As a fan of any team, this icon will be missed. Was football ever any better than he and Pat Summerall calling games on Sunday?

  11. I ran into him a few years ago while volunteering at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am Golf Tournament. He lived just around the corner in Carmel, CA. Just a regular guy, believe it or not. And a real gentleman.

  12. Noll, Shula, Landry, Lombardi, Stram, and Madden. That’s a hell of a fraternity up there. RIP Coach

  13. Miss you coach.

    Wish we had someone near your level broadcasting games today. We are stuck with the likes of Troy Aikman and Tony ‘Annoying’ Romo.

    Rest In Heaven

    We will see you on the other side.

  14. Terrible news! The best announcer ever, he was a true legend of the game, a pioneer, The
    Raiders best coach, he’s the reason I began loving the Raiders when I was a kid. RIP coach!

  15. Wow. This one hurts. I thought maybe for once we would not see any thumbs down votes. Just goes to show how classless people can be.

  16. May he Rest In Peace. And may those among us who don’t appreciate life take a few moments to ponder how lucky they are to still be alive.

  17. R.I.P. to a great one. I grew up watching games and hearing him and pat summerall. And of course loved playing madden. Haven’t played it in a while. Matter of fact, I’m going to go whoop my sons backside on some madden right now just to pay homage.

  18. Wow what a loss for the entire world. You can’t think about the NFL and not think of John Madden, in any capacity. A true legend of the game, I’m not sure a helmet decal or end zone decals would do him enough justice.

  19. John Madden was NFL football. He was bigger than life and a great contributor as a coachm broadcaster and game developer. RIP Coach!

  20. RIP John. He’s proof you will succeed at anything you are passionate about and a reminder to have fun and enjoy your life.

  21. It always amazes me in the comments how people thumb down a person paying their respects to someone that just died….

    RIP Mr Madden

  22. I grew up to John Madden commentating football games. To me, he was football or at least a huge part of it. He’s an icon of the game. It’s sad to see him go, but his legacy will live on forever.


    You accomplished what we all hope to do in life, you helped make this planet a better place with your passion, voice and personality.

    As well as left a legacy that will never be duplicated or forgotten!

    RIP John Madden and on behalf of ALL NFL FAN’S Thank You for all the amazing memories you helped create!

  24. Wow. I used to love watching niners/cowboys in the early 90s cause I knew the call would be Madden and Summeral.

    I also still use tough actin Tinactin for jock itch

  25. Madden and Summerall. They were the biggest influence on my American Football education living in the UK and my favourite duo in the broadcast booth, closely followed by Madden and Michaels. Farewell, Coach and thank you for the memories.

  26. As a kid watching Cowboys games in the 90s anytime you got Madden and Summeraul you knew it was going to be a great game. RIP John Madden

  27. John Madden is, present tense is, a pillar of Raider Nation. As much as Al Davis was hated, John Madden was loved. It’s as if it is a yin and yang concept.

  28. RIP to one of the greatest figures in NFL History.
    Coach. Broadcaster. Video Game pioneer.
    Paraphrasing what he often said about great players: “He is the whole package.”. He certainly was.
    He will be missed.

  29. RIP, he’s a legend.
    The only bad decision was him saying the Patriots have to take a knee against the Rams and play for overtime. That’s when TB12 was born.

  30. John Madden represented everything that was true and great about the game of professional football. He will be sorely missed. He is the greatest Raider of them all and there wasn’t anybody who loved the Raiders more than him. He had the best winning percentage (.759) among coaches who won at least 100 games. He teamed with Pat Summerall to become the best broadcasting duo the game has ever seen. The inventor of the Turduckin who brought it to the viewers on Thanksgiving Day football games, was bigger than life. I don’t think you will ever find anyone who loved the game as much as John. RIP Coach Madden, thoughts and prayers are with his immediate family and to all of Raider Nation. This one stings right now.

  31. I’m 40- I grew up watching madden as a broadcaster and have played madden the video game since it’s inception.

    a lot of adults older than me don’t grasp how much playing madden made me understand football more.

    RIP goat

  32. I first became an NFL fan when he coached the Raiders. I always liked how tough the Raiders played, and Madden was such an incredible coach. Rest in peace Mr. Madden.

  33. Congratulations to FOX for making and airing the ALL MADDEN documentary before he died. It was so great to hear him tell his stories — and for him to hear from friends, colleagues and family members just how much he was loved. Too often these tributes don’t come until after someone passes.

    If you missed it on Christmas Day it’s a MUST WATCH. Hopefully FOX will re-air it soon – in Prime Time.

  34. Madden, more than any other person, helped NFL football become the most popular sport in America.

  35. “I never held a job in my life. I went from NFL player to coach to broadcaster. I never worked a day in my life” John Madden

    You did it right, Big Man. Thanks for the memories.

  36. It’s nice to know the sad people who took the time to down-vote Madden’s death won’t have to worry about anyone down-voting their deaths when they pass. That’s because they lived their pathetic lives cutting everyone else down because they thought they were the greatest — in their own mind. Nobody thinks that but them, and when they pass, there won’t be a post memorializing their lives because nobody will care.

  37. Knew this day would come at some point, but it’s sort of a shock nonetheless. You had an incredible run.

  38. Wow,I was devastated when Dwight Clark passed, this one hits me just as hard. Godspeed, coach and peace to your family.

  39. Absolutely loved John Madden….just an all-around great guy. Definitely will be missed.

  40. As my screen name says, I worked as a locker room kid for the Chiefs at the old Municipal Stadium but…I worked in the visitors locker room. So I got to hang with all the greats in the old AFL including Coach Madden. He was always nice to us kids and made sure we all got Raiders t-shirts (the ones the players wore under their pads) and other stuff. One of my jobs was to make sure that there were cigarettes in all the lockers for the players at half time (Yep…it was like a pool hall in there at halftime, especially the O & D linemen). Coach Madden was firing them up as well while yelling at or coaching the likes of Lamonica, Davidson, the Otto brothers and all the old Raiders who we hated. Quite a memory flood for me today. RIP Coach.

  41. I am deeply saddened by the passing Of John Madden, as I am sure all NFL fans are. He was the guy everyone would want to sit down and have a meal with and talk football.
    The sport has not seen a better announcing duo since John Madden and Pat Summerall no longer could do games together. Summerall was the best play-by-play guy because he didn’t try to make himself the story as so many guys do today. And Madden was the best color commentator because he not only knew the game so well, but he had such a great personality that even people who didn’t like football loved listening to him.
    As for the single most influential person in the history of the sport of football, I will only say that men like Knute Rockne, Pop Warner, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Walter Camp, Bud Wilkinson, George Hallas, Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Pete Rozelle, Lamar Hunt and Joe Foss were all extremely important to the game of football. Their importance Should not be forgotten because they were the men who brought the game of football to prominence. If it hadn’t been for those men, the football that John Madden played, then coached, then broadcasted would not have been what it was.
    Rest In Eternal Peace, John Madden. You brought so much joy to the world of football and you will never be forgotten by anyone who watched or heard you.

  42. RIP John Madden! One of the reasons why I became a football fan. I loved his enthusiasm and genuine passion for the game.

  43. Just dont understand how people could thumbs down this news. I guess dysfunctional people are alive and well for some fans.a wonderful football announcer.

  44. Summerall and Madden – the voices of pro football… and Pat is handing John his new headset right now. RIP

  45. UGGH such sad news. Was a true legend. Loved all his broadcasts with Pam Summerall. All his Nate Newtons, Troy Aikmans, Brett Favres, Jim Burts, the Turduckon lol. He made all the broadcasts fun and entertaining.

  46. 85 is a great run he earned his rest now him and pat are calling games on that gridiron in the sky.

  47. John and Pat are etched in my memories….so many Great Sunday afternoons watching the NFL with them.

  48. If you watched All Madden on Xmas, and saw how it ended, his death a few days later seems oddly perfect.


  49. RIP Coach. You don’t turn on the TV because you like who’s in the booth, but you did when it was Madden. He was just at a different level than everyone else. As entertaining as he was, nobody knew the game better than he, and he talked down to our level. Yes, he’s a Raider, but he’s everybody’s coach.

  50. The Redskins/Cowboys Thanksgiving day games where Summerall and Madden would make the call were classic games.

    I just got a little older tonight. RIP Coach Madden.

  51. In the early 90’s I did some work with Joe Madden, his son. This was at the facility in Pleasanton, CA where they parked the Maddencruiser and where they filmed a lot of commercials. John came in one day, and Joe introduced us. I was awestruck, but John was very personable and friendly, much lower key than his public persona. I cherish the few minutes I spent with him. I’ve met a handful of other “famous” people over the years, but he’s top of the heap. RIP, Coach. My condolences to you, Joe, and all your family.

  52. Thank you coach for helping me to love the Raiders and football as a whole. There will never be a coach/commenter that is better.

  53. I grew up knowing Madden in booth with Pat Summerall. First question for me when turning on the game….”is it Madden and Summerall?” They guy made watching football a treat and a learning experience along the way, to boot.
    Thank you, sir. We’ll done.

  54. WOW John Madden passed away what a Great Coach and Football Commentator did not see that coming. I am shocked by all the haters who put a thumbs down on all the tributes of sympathy being shown to this true legend of Pro Football who also brought attention to CTE among Football players. He caught a bus or a train on his final trip up there.

  55. in addition to everything so many have already mentioned, I loved John busting through the wall in those “Case Of The Missing Case” commercials. Classics!

  56. He always seemed to be having fun…never took himself too seriously. Rest in Peace, Coach.

  57. It takes a special human being to make butt sweat so entertaining. Most announcers wear on your nerves over time. Not John. I think he was the best color man in NFL history.

    RIP coach.

  58. It’s like the passing of an old friend.
    Watching his Raiders teams and then later his color commentary on broadcasts turned many into NFL fans.

  59. RIP John! What a pioneer of the game, even your Mom in the Kitchen who knew nothing about sports would understand football after listening to Madden’s simplistic explanations that make it easy to learn the game of football. Go carry Bisaccia now in spirit!

  60. Perhaps the most amazing thing of an amazing career, and life, was his statement that he had given all he could give, and that he would never coach again, at age 42. And he kept his word. He retired with the highest winning percentage of any coach to win 100 games, a record that stands over 40 years later. His players trusted and believed in him, and millions of fans learned to love the game because of his impact in broadcasting, and in the Madden game, which was his way of teaching and bringing football to several generations of kids – and still does. And, by all accounts, he was a great guy.

    RIP, Coach Madden!

  61. I was just talking to my family on Christmas about how much I miss Madden announcing the games…rest in peace.

  62. I think the entire league should have big JM decals on their helmets this weekend, maybe even a uniform patch, to commemorate the most unique person the NFL has ever known. RIP, John.

  63. Guess fox had a heads up that the time has come, hence the Christmas special….RIP Coach!!!


  65. Here’s right there with John Facenda when I think of the voices that defined football.

  66. It doesn’t matter what team you root for…the football community lost an amazing man. The comments seen here show that. A legend.

  67. There will never be another like him coach or broadcasting wise. I was truly privileged to listen and watch pat and him every Monday growing up. Condolences to his friends and family. I’m sure he was as great professionally as he was personally. This world just lost a genuine person.

  68. Symbolic as he represented an era in the NFL that is now gone. I miss that NFL and we will all miss John Madden. RIP coach.

  69. As an Eagles fan John Madden was very influential in helping me form my opinions and knowledge of the game. Coach you will never be forgotten and thanks for the years of entertainment whether it be on the sidelines, in the broadcast booth or in the Madden football game which is the greatest football game of all time!

  70. This is one of the biggest football deaths of all time. Madden was larger than life and one of the greatest coaches of all time ironically, which he doesn’t get enough credit for being. To put it into perspective, the 70s Raiders were today’s Patriots, and he, Al Davis, and Ron Wolf built them into that.

  71. Turducken, bunting, boom, and the telestrator and throw in the Madden cruiser.

    RIP, Coach. Hope you and Pat are reliving old memories.

  72. As a San Diego Charger fan,
    I grew up hating every single thing
    about the Oakland Raiders
    (and don’t get me started on “The Holy Roller”)

    So when Madden moved to the broadcast booth,
    I naturally expected to hate him there, too.
    But I had to admit that he was a natural at it.

    And then to help create one of the most iconic
    videogame series of all-time…

    well, if this former San Diego Chargers fan
    can admire and respect Madden…that’s the ultimate

  73. Rest In Peace JOHN MADDEN !!! One of the best human beings ever !!!
    Al Davis made many great decisions, I think John Madden was one of his personal bests !!!

  74. Thankfully John Madden will live on for generations to come in NFL Films. I hope the NFL brings the various Madden Cruisers to the Super Bowl and then drive them empty to the Hall of Fame.

  75. John Madden left coaching at the height of his coaching career.
    He went from coaching the Raiders on a chalk board to coaching TV viewers on a telestrator, which was invented specifically so Madden could show what was going on. Changed broadcasting forever.
    He followed that by developing Madden Football, a game so detailed and accurate that it set a new baseline for understanding football.
    Raiders fan since the 70s, fan of Madden the author and broadcaster since the 80s, and fan of Madden Football into this new millenium.
    All my love to the Madden family and all the people who love him.

  76. RIP Coach.

    He’s one person who could be in the hall for 3 reasons.

    His coaching which he is in for.

    His announcing which made the game so much better for so many of us over the years.

    His role in the EA games which helped grow the game and hook younger generations.

    If you were to make a list of the most important people in the modern nfl history few would have a claim over madden.

  77. Him and Pat Summerall were THE best. I was hoping he’d do one more game as a guest in the NBC booth.

  78. “Where’d that truck come from?” One of my favorite John Madden lines.

    If you looked up the word football in the dictionary, there would be a picture of John Madden. RIP

  79. We used to play a drinking game, you had to do a shot every time Madden said “penetration”. Nobody ever won, we all lost every time.

  80. As a San Diego Charger fan, I grew up hating every single thing about the Oakland Raiders (and don’t get me started on “The Holy Roller”) So when Madden moved to the broadcast booth, I naturally expected to hate him there, too. But I had to admit that he was a natural at it. And then to help create one of the most iconic videogame series of all-time… well, if this former San Diego Chargers fan can admire and respect Madden…that’s the ultimate compliment.

  81. Has any one person had a greater impact on the game? Between all of his different incarnations, I really don’t think so.

  82. wow, what a great loss. I wasnt a raiders fan but felt the same way when Al Davis passed away. such a legend of the game. RIP

  83. No one like him! Iconic in the deepest sense of the word! NFL isn’t remotely close to what it’s become today without Coach Madden! A TRUE LEGEND in every Sense of the word! LEGEND! Never another one will come close! Best of a Great Game! Coach, analyst, video game innovator! Simply the GOAT! 🐐

  84. I honestly can’t think of anyone who has contributed more to football than John Madden in my 56 years. I’m open to suggestions, but nobody comes to mind.

  85. RIP Coach Madden, really enjoyed your broadcasts of Wash.vs Dallaas or NY Giants great games and listening to you made it even better

  86. The review is in: John Madden got one knee down (which equals two feet) in the end zone of life.

  87. A very sad thing to read first thing this morning. I will never forget the 6-legged turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. RIP Coach Madden, you provided enjoyment and laughter to generations of American football fans.

  88. Madden was on the call during one of the most amazing games I ever watched. It was the Packers at Raiders the day after Favre’s father died. That was intense. Madden admitted he had never seen anything like it.

  89. Watching the 4th quarter of the whatever bowl with Maryland spanking Virginia Tech, and they showed a great clip of John Madden explaining a turducken and then carving it open with his bare hand. Just a phenomenal, joyous man full of life. You will be missed, Coach Madden.

  90. It’s interesting that we now live in a world where you have all these people on social media saying how they love everyone. And this guy is talking about how John was part of their family. LOL Ok, whatever. Yeah, I let out and “oh wow” when I heard the news. But it’s as though people don’t know how to comparmentalize a TV person who you never even met and truly don’t know anything about, from someone you do. Society has gone mad.

  91. Watching slow-mo this weekend, my mind still recalled “one cheek equals two feet”. At the end of broadcasting games, he was a caricature of himself, but that was still sooooo much better than succeeding crews will ever be. The man did a lot of good for a lot of people while he was here.

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