John Madden Tributes: ‘Thanks, Coach’

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John Madden enjoyed several successful careers. For those who watched the NFL throughout the 1970s, he was a legendary head coach for the Oakland Raiders, leading the team to victory in Super Bowl XI. When he retired at just 42, he had the highest winning percentage, .759, among NFL head coaches with a minimum of 100 games, a record that still stands. A slightly younger generation was first introduced to him as a broadcaster, where he teamed with another former player, Pat Summerall, for 22 seasons, as the #1 team first for CBS, then for Fox. His colorful, unconventional, engaging style, frequently filled with “Boom” and “Bam” for emphasis, earned him an astonishing 16 Sports Emmy Awards.

Madden parlayed his widespread appeal to become a ubiquitous ad pitchman, most notably for Miller Lite and Ace Hardware. He famously travelled by train rather than airplane for his work, and later rode in his own customized coach-bus.

He became such a household name that he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1982. Beginning in 1988, he earned further acclaim as the voice for the top-selling, namesake video game series, Madden NFL.

When news of Madden’s death on December 28, 2022, at age 85, arrived, many legendary figures of the sports and broadcasting worlds paid tribute.

Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning shared a personal story. “My rookie year, [my grandfather] was always asking if Madden and Summerall were going to broadcast one of the Colts games. I said, ‘Pa-Pa, the Colts are 2-8 and we are playing the Bengals who are 3-7. Madden and Summerall don’t do those games. But the next year, we played the Cowboys with John Madden & Pat Summerall broadcasting the game, and my grandfather was so excited. We won the game that day, and John Madden said, ‘The Colts are on their way.’ It’s one thing for a fan to say, ‘The Colts are on their way.’ When John Madden says that, that meant something.”

From Vin Scully, at 94 the dean of American sports broadcasters…

Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones: “I am not aware of anyone who has made a more meaningful impact on the National Football League than John Madden, and I know of no one who loved the game more.”

Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Impersonator Frank Caliendo is well known for his great imitation of Madden. He wrote, “I honestly didn’t know him all that well… but meeting him and his family, years ago, was one of the most amazing moments in my life. RIP John Madden.”

Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre: “Felt like my entire career was narrated by ‘Coach’, one of the best ever in the game. I’ll always remember our pre-game meetings, when we would laugh & talk about anything but football.”

In a 2013 interview, fellow broadcasting legend, Al Michaels, said, “John Madden is as important as anybody in the history of football. Tell me somebody who did all of the things that John did, and did them over this long a period of time.”

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  1. TyStick
    #1 TyStick 30 December, 2021, 09:14

    John Madden was a Great coach for the Oakland Raiders. I loved watching him on the sidelines. He also was funny guy who could act really well. Those Miller Lite commercials he made in the late 70s early 80s were hilarious. John Madden thank you for all the memories as coach of the Raiders, Miller Lite commercials and your sports commentating.

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