John Madden, legendary NFL coach and commentator, dead at 85

Super Bowl-winning head coach became pre-eminent commentator for American football league after Hall of Fame career

John Madden, the legendary Super Bowl-winning head coach who then became a leading National Football League commentator and face of the video game franchise, died on Tuesday at the age of 85.

No cause of death was immediately given.

"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," league commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

Madden first earned fame during his 10 years as the no-nonsense head coach of the NFL's Oakland Raiders, starting in 1969. His regular season record was 103 wins, 32 losses and 7 ties, the best winning percentage among the league’s coaches with at least 100 career victories.

Madden guided the Raiders to win Super Bowl XI in 1977. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

"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, now in Las Vegas, said in a statement.

By the time of his Hall of Fame induction, he had become the sport’s best known colour commentator. He started with CBS, in 1979, delighting fans with his trademark interjections to punctuate good or awful plays: “Boom!” “Whap!” “Bang!” and “Doink.”

Later he worked for Fox, ABC, and NBC as the various networks won the rights to broadcast NFL games and persuaded Madden to join them. He retired from TV broadcasting in 2009, and won 16 Emmy awards during his time as a broadcaster.

Among younger fans he was best known for the EA Sports/Electronic Arts video game that bore his name and input and was a regular best-seller each time it came out in a new edition.

“The younger generation of football fans was introduced to the NFL because of the computer game,” ESPN columnist Len Pasquarelli said his review of the 2006 version of the game.

“For that generation, Madden is, essentially, the face of the NFL.”

Bloomberg News contributed to this report

Updated: December 29th 2021, 3:24 PM