John Madden, the NFL icon who found success as a coach, broadcaster and the namesake of a hugely popular line of video games, has died at the age of 85.
Confirmation of Madden’s passing came from the NFL. The league did not disclose a cause of death.
Born in Minnesota, Madden was a football star in high school. He eventually headed west, first playing at the College of San Mateo junior college before later moving on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
In 1958, Madden was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 21st round of the NFL draft. A knee injury in training camp ended Madden’s professional playing career before it ever got started.
After spending several years working as a coach in the college ranks, Madden resurfaced in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders in 1967. Initially hired as the linebackers coach, Madden ascended to head coach in 1969.
His decade-long run as the Raiders coach was flush with success. Under Madden’s leadership, the team went to seven AFC title games and won Super Bowl XI.
He retired from coaching in 1979 at the age of 42 and transitioned to the broadcast booth. It was here that Madden — an oversized man with an infectious personality — really made a national name for himself.
Across 30 years in broadcasting, Madden worked for CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC. He and longtime partner Pat Summerall became the most revered broadcasting duo in the world of football. Madden’s career highlights included calling 11 Super Bowls and amassing 16 Emmy awards.
In 1988, EA Sports launched the Madden NFL video game, originally called John Madden Football. In addition to his name, Madden lent his voice and likeness to the game. Initially, the game was only a moderate success, however its popularity grew over time. Updated versions would be released year after year, with Madden NFL growing to become one of the most popular franchises in gaming history. Across more than 30 different installments, it is estimated that Madden NFL has made more than $4 billion in sales.
Madden’s popularity also made him a pop-culture icon, regularly leading to cameos in TV and movies. The broadcaster appeared in such feature films as Little Giants and The Replacements, and TV series Arliss and The Simpsons. He also served as a pitchman in many commercials, for brands such as Ace Hardware, Outback Steakhouse, Verizon, Miller Lite and Tinactin.
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