John Madden Biography

(Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders)

Birthday: April 10, 1936 (Aries)

Born In: Austin, Minnesota, United States

John was one of the best-known personalities in the history of National Football League, serving first as a coach and later as a successful commentator.  Born to an auto mechanic in Austin and raised in Daly City, he grew up playing football with the neighborhood boys, one of whom was would-be football coach John Robinson. Eventually he entered college with a football scholarship; but was quickly redshirted due to a knee injury. Although he later resumed playing and was even drafted by NFL's Philadelphia Eagles he had to quit without appearing any professional match due to another knee injury. Unable to play, he decided to take up coaching, serving as the head coach for Oakland Raiders for 10 years before turning to broadcasting, 12 twelve Emmy Awards for his contributions to the latter field.   From 1988, he also lent his name, expertise and commendatory to a series of video games, Madden NFL, which sold more than 130 million copies until 2018.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: John Earl Madden

Died At Age: 85


Spouse/Ex-: Virginia Fields

father: Earl Russell Madden

mother: Mary Margaret Flaherty

children: Joseph Madden, Michael Madden

Born Country: United States

Coaches Sportscasters

Height: 6'4" (193 cm), 6'4" Males

Died on: December 28, 2021

place of death: Pleasanton, California, United States

U.S. State: Minnesota

More Facts

education: Jefferson High School, University Of Oregon

awards: California Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Childhood & Early Years

John Earl Madden was born on April 10, 1936 in Austin, Minnesota, USA. His father, Earl Russell Madden, was an auto mechanic and his mother, Mary née Flaherty, was a devout Catholic. Born eldest of his parents’ three children, he had two sisters, Delores and Judy

As the Great Depression set in, his father, who worked at a small garage in Austin, found it difficult to support his growing family. Eventually in 1942, on learning from his elder brother that there were plenty of jobs in San Francisco, he moved with his family to Daly City, California.

Life was much better in Daly City, even for six years old John, who loved all kinds of sports. There was an empty lot in front of his house, where the neighborhood boys would gather to play. His father too encouraged it, even taking time off to coach them.

In the summer of 1945, he met John Robinson, whose family had recently moved in from Chicago and very soon the two boys became inseparable friends, attending the same middle school, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, together.

Later John joined Jefferson High School, where he played football, baseball and basketball, with castoff equipments. But when he decided to take up part-time jobs in order to buy some good equipment, his father, who had to struggle all his life, forbade it, telling him, “Don’t start working until you have to“.

However, he did work shortly as a golf caddy at the Lake Merced Country Club and later at San Francisco Golf Club. It was during this time that he realized the importance of education and on graduating from school in 1954 entered the University of Oregon with a football scholarship, studying pre-law.

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College Years

Possibly in 1955, he left University of Oregon not only because he found the subject not to his liking, but also because he was redshirted due to a knee injury. Thereafter, he enrolled at the College of San Mateo, leaving the institution after only one semester before studying briefly at Grays Harbor College.

Finally in the fall of 1956, he took transfer to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he resumed playing football with Cal Poly Mustangs.  During this period, he played both offense and defense, winning all-conference honors at offensive tackle. He was also a catcher on Cal Poly's baseball team.

In 1958, he was drafted in the 21st round by the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. But unfortunately, he suffered an injury in his other knee in his first training camp and with that his dream of playing professional football came to an abrupt end.

While recuperating from the injury, he met Norm Van Brocklin, who kindled in him an interest in coaching. Eventually in 1959, he earned his Bachelor of Science in education and in1961 a Master of Arts in the same subject.

Meanwhile in 1960, he debuted as an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College and was promoted to the head coach in 1962. In the following year, he moved to San Diego State Aztecs, where he remained till 1966. Concurrently, he also coached under Don Coryell, who left a lasting mark on him.

As Professional Coach

In 1967, John Madden joined AFL's Oakland Raiders as the linebackers coach, helping the team to reach Super Bowl II that very season. Ultimately on February 4, 1969, he was named the team’s head coach, thus becoming the youngest head coach in professional football to that time.

In 1969, the Raiders posted a 12–1–1 record, but lost 17-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFL's championship game, setting an unfortunate pattern. Till 1975, the team appeared in four American Football Conference championship games and while they won the initial matches, they failed to lift the trophy.

By 1976, it started circulating that Madden was incapable of winning big games. As if to prove that wrong, Raiders defeated both the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers to achieve the team's second Super Bowl berth in the 1976 season.

Next on January 9, 1977, the Raiders won Super Bowl XI by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 32–14. With this victory, Madden won his first and only NFL title and his team was declared the best team in the NFL in the 1976 season.

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In 1977, the Raiders again won the AFC West, but lost the AFC Championship Game. Again in 1978, they enjoyed their tenth straight winning campaign under Madden, but failed to qualify for the playoffs.  Soon after that Madden stepped down as the coach and began a new chapter in his career.


In 1979, after retiring as a coach, John Madden joined CBS as a color commentator. However, he had debuted in radio broadcasting nine years earlier with Gene Nelson's show on station KYA in San Francisco and had continued to make radio calls-in all through.

In 1981, he was paired with Pat Summerall, with whom he formed the network’s top broadcasting duo, going on to call eight Super Bowls together. When Summerall was unavailable, he would pair with other commentators.

In 1994, as the Fox Network gained the rights to NFC games, Madden and Summerall joined Fox's NFL coverage, remaining with the network till 2001.  By then, Madden had become a star commentator, with an annual contract amount far exceeding that of NLF players

In 2002, he moved to ABC Sports, working as a commentator on the network's Monday Night Football till 2005. It is believed that he made $5 million per year during this period.

From 2006 to 2008, he was with NBC Sports, calling his final game; for Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 1, 2009. He announced his official retirement from broadcasting booth on April 16, 2009. However, he continued to make radio call-ins till August 2018.

Awards & Achievements

Throughout his broadcasting career John Madden won twelve Sports Emmy Awards in the Outstanding Sports Event Analyst category, receiving them in 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999.

In 2006, he was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and in 2009 in the California Hall of Fame.

Family & Personal Life

On December 26, 1959, John Madden married Virginia Fields. The couple had two sons, Joseph and Michael. While Joseph played football at Brown University, Michael started as receiver on the football team at the Harvard University.

On December 28, 2021, he died of undisclosed causes at his home in Pleasanton, California. He was then 85 years old and had celebrated his 62nd wedding anniversary two days earlier.

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