John Madden dies at 85 - petsitterbank

John Madden dies at 85

Stocky and a bit sloppy, Madden earned a place in the heart of America with a pleasant, unpretentious style that was refreshing in a sports world of spiraling salaries and prima-donna stars. He was going from game to game in his own bus because he was claustrophobic and had stopped flying. For a time, Madden gave a “turducken” – a stuffed chicken inside a stuffed duck inside a turkey – to the outstanding player in the Thanksgiving game he called.

“Nobody loved soccer more than the ‘Coach’. He it was football, “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “It was an incredible sounding board for me and many others. There will never be another John Madden, and we will always be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today. “

When he finally retired from the broadcast booth, leaving NBC Sunday night football, his colleagues universally praised Madden’s passion for the sport, his preparation and his ability to explain an often difficult game in practical terms.

“No one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant and more enjoyable to watch and hear than John,” announcer Al Michaels said at the time, play by play.

Madden grew up in Daly City, California. He played both offensive and defensive lines for Cal Poly in 1957-58 and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from school.

Madden was selected to the all-conference team and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles, but a knee injury dashed his hopes for a professional playing career. Instead, Madden devoted himself to coaching, first at Hancock Junior College and later as a defensive coordinator at San Diego State.

John Madden is taken off the field after coaching the Raiders for the Super Bowl trophy in 1977.Credit:AP

Al Davis brought him to the Raiders as a linebackers coach in 1967, and Oakland went to the Super Bowl in his first year as a professional. He replaced John Rauch as head coach after the 1968 season at age 32, beginning a remarkable 10-year streak.

With his demonstrative demeanor on the bench and his disheveled appearance, Madden was the ideal coach for the collection of discards and misfits that made up those Raiders teams.

“Sometimes the guys were disciplinary in things that didn’t make any difference. I was disciplined when jumping offside; I hated that, ”Madden once said. “Being in bad position and missing tackles, stuff. I wasn’t, ‘Your hair has to be combed.’

The Raiders responded.

“I always thought his strength was his coaching style,” quarterback Ken Stabler once said. “John had a great ability to let us be who we wanted to be, on and off the field … How do you pay him to be like this? You win for him. “

And boy did they ever. For many years, the only problem was the play-offs.

Madden was 12-1-1 in his first season, losing the AFL title game 17-7 to Kansas City. That pattern was repeated during his tenure; the Raiders won the division title in seven of their first eight seasons, but were 1-6 in conference title games during that span.

Still, Madden’s Raiders played in some of the most memorable games of the 1970s, games that helped change the rules of the NFL. There was the “Holy Roller” in 1978, when Stabler intentionally fumbled forward before being caught on the last play. The ball rolled and was hit into the end zone before Dave Casper recovered it for the winning touchdown against San Diego.

The most famous of those games was against the Raiders in the 1972 play-offs in Pittsburgh. With the Raiders leading 7-6 and with 22 seconds to play, the Steelers had a quarter and 10 from their 40-yard line. Terry Bradshaw’s desperate pass drifted from Oakland’s Jack Tatum or Pittsburgh’s Frenchy Fuqua to Franco Harris. caught with his shoe and ran to score.

Madden in 1970 as coach of the Oakland Raiders.

Madden in 1970 as coach of the Oakland Raiders.Credit:AP

In those days, a pass that bounced from an offensive player directly to a teammate was illegal, and the debate continues to this day as to which player it hit. The catch, of course, was dubbed the “Immaculate Reception.”

Oakland finally broke through with a loaded team in 1976 that had Stabler at quarterback; Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch at receiver; tight end Dave Casper; Hall of Fame offensive linemen Gene Upshaw and Art Shell; and a defense that included Willie Brown, Ted Hendricks, Tatum, John Matuszak, Otis Sistrunk, and George Atkinson.

The Raiders were 13-1, losing just one beating at New England in Week 4. They paid off the Patriots with a 24-21 victory in their first play-off game and overcame the hump of the AFC title game with a 24-7 victory over the Steelers, who were paralyzed by injuries.

Oakland won it all with a 32-14 Super Bowl win over Minnesota.


“The players loved playing for him,” Shell said. “He made it fun for us at camp and fun for us in the regular season. All he asked is that we be on time and play like hell when it was time to play. “

Madden battled an ulcer the following season, when the Raiders lost again in the AFC title game. He retired from the coach at age 42 after a 9-7 season in 1978.

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