NFL coaching great John Madden, whose influence extended through a long broadcasting career and into the age of video games, died on Tuesday at 85, the league said.
Madden was a Hall of Fame coach at the Oakland Raiders, joining the club as an assistant coach in 1967 and taking over the head coaching job two seasons later.
At 32 he was one of the youngest coaches in league history, but he led the Raiders to a 12-1-1 season in his first year to launch what would be a historic tenure with the club.
His 1976 Raiders were 13-1 in the regular season and beat the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title game before going on to win the Super Bowl with a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
“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. The cause of Madden’s death was not given.
“We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every major network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather,” Goodell added.
“Nobody loved football more than Coach… 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 retired in 1978 after a decade at the helm of the Raiders, during which he amassed a record of 103-32-7.
Madden had played college football but saw his hopes of a pro career dashed by a knee injury.
He went on to star in the broadcast booth, where his enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the game made him a fan favorite and a staple in telecasts of many of the league’s biggest games.
When he retired in 2009, he had garnered 16 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Analyst/Personality — his popularity also made him a perfect pitchman for an array of products.
Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2006.
Younger fans know him as the man who gave his name to EA Sports’ “Madden NFL,” first released in 1988 and now so popular that NFL players themselves track their ratings in the video game.