The Tragic Death Of NFL Icon John Madden

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden has died, according to TMZ. He was 85 years old. The National Football League announced the sad news on December 28, noting that Madden died unexpectedly that morning. Roger Goodell, the league's commissioner, said, "Nobody loved football more than Coach." Goodell continued, "He was football. He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others. 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."

Madden made a name for himself as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders but perhaps became even more iconic when he joined Pat Summerall as a color commentator. That career led to perhaps the most memorable aspect of his career — the use of his voice for the "Madden" series of video games, created by E.A. Sports, which is still in production.

As of this writing, there was no cause of death announced. Madden is survived by his wife, Virginia, and their two sons, Joseph and Michael. And although the family has yet to speak out, many others have shared their condolences.

John Madden made a lasting impression

A wide range of people took to social media to express their condolences after they found out John Madden had died. From fans to fellow broadcasters, to owners and coaches (both past and current), Madden seemed to have made an impact on a large portion of society, and people recalled just how much Madden affected their lives. "First job out of college in '96 was as PR intern with Green Bay Packers. Meeting John Madden when he came in with CBS broadcast team was a thrill," ESPN analyst Jim Nagy tweeted. He added, "I was literally the lowest man on the totem pole and he was always down to earth and gracious with his time. Sad day for football."

"I am not aware of anyone who has made a more meaningful impact on the National Football League than John Madden. And I know of no one who loved the game more," Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, said in a statement, per TMZ. And Dan Rather wrote on Twitter, "Few approached life with the joy of legendary football coach & broadcaster John Madden. A colleague at CBS, he was a gentleman with a boisterous sense of humor. On the sidelines & in the booth, this voluble mountain of energy was a trailblazer. A golden era ends with his passing."

Madden was an incredible coach, player, and broadcaster, and he will be missed.

He greatly influenced the "Madden" game franchise

John Madden was well known for being a coach and incredible color commentator, but his most lasting legacy is probably the "Madden" football video game series, created by Electronic Arts and now developed by its sports division, E.A. Sports. The game was the foundation of E.A. and was first developed for the Apple II computer in 1988 before switching to the Sega Genesis and gaming consoles. Aside from being the face of the gaming franchise until 2001, Madden greatly influenced the game, insisting it be made as close to real football as possible. "If it's not 11-on-11," Madden had said, according to ESPN. "It's not real football. That was a deal breaker. If it was going to be me and going to be pro football, it had to have 22 guys on the screen. If we couldn't have that, we couldn't have a game."

Madden also insisted E.A. use real football plays, enlisting the help of his journalist friend, Frank Cooney, who collected plays from different teams and presented them to E.A., who implemented them in the game. But Madden wasn't E.A. founder Trip Hawkins' first choice — he wanted Joe Montana, then Cal football coach Joe Kapp. They eventually settled on Madden, whose coaching expertise and knowledge of the game launched E.A.'s most popular gaming franchise.

Madden's color commentary changed the booth forever

John Madden had a successful run as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 1969 to 1978, where he led them to their first Super Bowl victory in 1977, per BBC News. His time with the team also gave him the best winning percentage of NFL coaches who have coached more than 100 games. But he retired early, at just 42 years old, and was soon hired to be a color commentator for CBS. His unique style led him to rise through the ranks fairly quickly, and he brought his coaching expertise to people's living rooms every week. "For me, TV is really an extension of coaching," Madden wrote in his book "Hey, Wait a Minute! (I Wrote a Book!)", per ESPN. "My knowledge of football has come from coaching. And on TV, all I'm trying to do is pass on some of that knowledge to viewers."

Although he became known for his fantastic interjections while commentating, like "boom," or "bam," per The New York Times, he also worked his way into people's hearts by breaking down plays in a way that viewers had never seen before. He relied on the Telestrator to draw over the field for the people at home, explaining what they were seeing and how plays developed. "People always ask, 'Are you a coach or a broadcaster or a video game guy?'" he said when he was elected to the Pro Hall of Fame, via ESPN. "I'm a coach, always been a coach."