Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and broadcasting legend John Madden, whose voice became a running commentary for NFL viewers every football weekend for nearly 30 years, died Tuesday morning, the league announced.
He was 85. The NFL said he died unexpectedly and no other details were released.
“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.”
Madden may have been known most recently for the popular football video games that bear his name, but he always knew what he wanted to be known as.
“People always ask, are you a coach or a broadcaster or a video game guy?” Madden said after his election to the Hall of Fame. “I’m a coach, always been a coach.”
He was hired by Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis in 1969 and at age 32 was given the reins to what became a storied franchise.
He had a 103-32-7 record with the Raiders, making eight playoff appearances and winning seven division titles before achieving his greatest coaching accomplishment, a victory in Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings. His .759 winning percentage is the best of all-time for coaches with more than 100 games.
“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,” the Raiders said in a statement Tuesday night.
After stepping down from coaching at age 42 following the 1978 season, Madden worked as an analyst for CBS Sports and became known for his partnership with Pat Summerall starting in 1981. CBS lost its NFC television rights to FOX in 1994 so he and Summerall went to the upstart network and worked together through the 2001 season.
Known for his straightforward approach to broadcasting, Madden schooled millions of viewers each week on the fine art of football, while using terms like “Doink!,” “Bam!” and “Boom!” and even drawing on the screen, showing pass and blocking patterns or even the sweat stains of big, burly offensive linemen.
He spent his final broadcasting years with Al Michaels on ABC’s Monday Night Football from 2002-2005 and Sunday Night Football on NBC from 2006-2008. His last broadcast was Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1, 2009, a thrilling 27-23 win by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals.
Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and was the winner of 16 Sports Emmy awards for his broadcasting. He worked for each of the networks carrying the NFL and was an analyst on 11 Super Bowl telecasts.