Football Loses an Icon – John Madden Dies at 85

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by Ryan Tantalo (@tantalotakes) 12/28/2021

(Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC/Walt Disney Television via Getty images) JOHN MADDEN

Ask any football fan to count down the greatest and most influential figures in the sport and John Madden’s name will fly right out. 

Some know John Madden for his Madden NFL video game, which has sold over 100 million copies since the first edition “John Madden Football” was released in 1988. Others know him for his illustrious tenure as an NFL color commentator on all 4 major TV Networks (ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS). And many more know him for his Hall of Fame NFL Head Coaching career. Regardless of how John Madden entered football fans’ lives, his impact on the game of pro football is undeniable.

During 10 seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Madden led the team to a  103-32-7 record, and a Super Bowl XI title over the Minnesota Vikings 32-14. His .759 winning percentage is second all time in NFL history.

As a TV analyst, Madden’s personality and knowledge of the game became must-watch entertainment for football fans across the world. He had an unmatched ability to explain the nuance of the game while still keeping things understandable and fun for fans of all interest levels. His iconic quotes throughout a career that included 16 Emmys are innumerable, but here are some of my favorites:

“Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest men on the field, they’re bigger than everybody else, and that’s what makes them the biggest men on the field.”

– John Madden

“If the quarterback throws the ball in the end zone and the wide receiver catches it, it’s a touchdown.”

– John Madden

Bomani Jones summed up Madden’s impact as a commentator in his tweet following the legend’s passing:

Madden set the standard for football broadcasting and helped to inspire the next generations of commentators and analysts.

In all of Madden’s work, his passion for the game of football was evident. He had a natural ability to spread knowledge and joy for the game, and was an instrumental piece in growing football to America’s #1 sport. 

Even after his retirements from coaching and TV commentating, Madden’s fingerprints are all over the NFL. His Madden NFL football video game is one of the highest-selling game franchises of all time. Madden is directly responsible for thousands, if not millions, of young fans learning about the game of football and becoming invested in the league. His games harness all the great things about football; the excitement, the great talent of the players, and an emphasis on fun above all else. 

John Madden’s passing today will strike the hearts of football fans of all ages and backgrounds. He embodied the greatness of the NFL for multiple generations of fans and left a lasting impact on so many lives.

Fans around the world will mourn his loss.

He was 85 years old.

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