Hall of Famer John Madden, whose Oakland Raiders teams never had a losing season and a beloved football analyst for three decades, has died, the NFL said Tuesday night.
Madden, 85, passed away unexpectedly in the morning, according to the league.
“On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to (wife) Virginia, (son) Mike, (Son) Joe and their families,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “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.”
During his 10 seasons coaching the Raiders, Madden’s teams never had a losing record and he led Oakland to the playoffs eight times. In January 1977, the Raiders won Super Bowl XI, beating the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 under Madden’s guidance.
In a statement, the Raiders said, “Few individuals meant as much to the growth and popularity of professional football as Coach Madden, whose impact on the game both on and off the field was immeasurable.”
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2006.
“I have never worked a day in my life. I went from player to coach to a broadcaster and I am the luckiest guy in the world,” he said at his induction.
Madden provided commentary for NFL games for 30 seasons for FOX, CBS, ABC and NBC. He won 16 Emmys as Outstanding Sports Personality/Sport Event Analyst.
Madden was beloved for his ebullient broadcasting style, and punctuated his analysis with a “Boom!” or “Wham!” or “Doink!”
Madden also had a love for using a Telestrator, a video marker that enables a person to draw over television images, and helped explain the game to hardcore and casual fans across America.
He gave awards out such as the All-Madden Team to hard-working players and turkey legs to the most valuable players of games he helped broadcast on Thanksgiving.
His greatest food gift might have been in using his TV pulpit to exclaim his fondness of a dish called turducken – deboned turkey, duck and chicken with some dressing.
“When I think of a person of sports who is worthy of the term, ‘larger than life,’ I have always thought of John. And I always will,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
His name is attached to one of the best-selling sports video game series – Madden NFL – which began in 1988 as John Madden Football.
“Today we lost a hero,” game maker EA Sports said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game was second only to his love for it and his appreciation for everyone that ever stepped on the gridiron.”
Madden’s exuberant and folksy personality also made him popular as a pitchman, promoting Miller Lite, Ace Hardware and a antifungus treatment he memorably described as “Tough actin’ Tinactin.”
Playing career ended with injury
According to the Hall of Fame, Madden had standout collegiate career at Cal Poly, San Louis Obispo, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 21st round of the 1958 NFL Draft. But he never played a down in the NFL after a knee injury in training camp.
Madden began to study game film with quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, and grew to enjoy analyzing – and coaching.
“Playing is the best thing. Coaching is the next-best thing,” Madden once told NFL Films.
Madden coached first at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California, as an assistant in 1960. Two years later he was elevated to head coach and in 1964 moved to San Diego State where he was defensive coordinator for three years.
He joined the Raiders, who were in the American Football League, before the 1967 season as a linebackers coach. In 1969, Al Davis made Madden, just 32, head coach.
The Raiders joined the NFL for the 1970 season when the 10 AFL teams officially folded into the league.
“John Madden really was the epitome of the NFL and brought the NFL into everyone’s home at the moment it was exploding in our consciousness,” CNN sports analyst and USA Today columnist Christine Brennan told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Brennan said she knew Madden to be kind, gentle, smart and “a lovely human being.”
At his Hall of Fame induction, Madden spoke about his best football moment.
“I just want to say in closing that it’s been a great ride,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who has been along for any part of it.
“Speaking of great rides, I was lucky enough to be carried off the field after we won Super Bowl XI. I was told it took like five or six guys to lift me up, then they dropped me. But that’s OK, because that was me and that was them. They aren’t going to carry me off. You carry him off for a while, boom! You dump him on the ground. But it was the happiest moment of my life.”
CNN’s Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.