(NEW YORK) — John Madden, the NFL coach, broadcaster and namesake for the billion-dollar video game franchise, died unexpectedly Tuesday. He was 85 years old.
The legendary coach helmed the Oakland Raiders from 1969 to 1978, winning a Super Bowl over the Minnesota Vikings in January 1977. But he became as known for what he did after leaving the game in just his early 40s, when he ascended to the broadcast booth and later lent his name to the most successful sports video game franchise of all time.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia, and sons Mike and Joe, as well as several grandchildren.
“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 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,” Goodell continued. “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.”
He finished his career 103-32 in the regular season and 9-7 in the postseason — the best winning percentage in NFL history with at least 100 games coached. He led the Raiders to a win in Super Bowl XI and five other AFC Championship games. His Raiders lost three times in the playoffs against the powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers, who won three titles in the ’70s.
Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as a coach, in 2006. In 2002, he was honored as a broadcaster by the Hall of Fame.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Coach Madden. Few, if any, have had as great an impact on the sport of professional football on so many different levels as Coach Madden,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement.
“While it’s a very sad day, it’s also a day we should celebrate the life of a man who brought joy through the game of football to millions,” Porter added
The gregarious Madden easily slid into a role in the broadcast booth in 1979, working for CBS and doing color commentary alongside a number of play-by-play men. But it was in 1981 when he replaced Tom Brookshier and joined forces with Pat Summerall that he became among the most famous color commentators in sports history.
His colorful analysis, often punctuated by his signature “boom,” made him beloved by a whole new generation of fans that never saw him as a coach. He would work for all four major networks, ending his time with CBS when they lost the NFL in 1993 and moving to Fox from 1994 to 2001 — still alongside Summerall. He joined ABC’s Monday Night Football in 2002 and NBC’s Sunday Night Football in 2006. He retired from the booth in 2008.
Madden lent his name and likeness to EA Sports’ Madden NFL video game franchise starting in 1988. He was intimately involved in the development of the game over the years, insisting on accuracy and a resemblance to the real sport as much as possible.
EA Sports has released new versions of the game each year with the cover spot often serving as a desirable spot for players — as well as an infamous curse. The game has sold hundreds of millions of copies and generated billions in revenue for the company.
In addition to the video game, he became a much-desired pitchman for everything from Miller Lite and Tinactin to Outback Steakhouse and Ace Hardware.
Madden grew up in Daly City, California, outside San Francisco, and had a successful playing career in high school. The offensive lineman played at Cal Poly and was drafted in the 21st round of the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. An injury ended his professional playing career and he took a job as an assistant at Allen Hancock College.
He took a job as defensive coordinator at San Diego State in 1994 and then became linebackers coach with the Oakland Raiders in 1967. When Jon Rauch left the Raiders to take the head coaching job with Buffalo in 1969, owner Al Davis promoted the 32-year-old Madden to the youngest head coach in NFL history at the time.
ABC News’ Matt Foster contributed to this report.
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