Local News Matters weekly newsletter
Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.
Friends, family and Oakland Raiders fans celebrated the life of John Madden, former Emmy-winning broadcaster and Super Bowl-winning coach, Monday evening at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland.
Madden died unexpectedly Dec. 28, 2021, at 85. He grew up in Daly City.
“He coaches angels now,” said Henry Lawrence, a former player with the Raiders, who began the celebration with a song to remember Madden.
In Madden’s head coaching career, he never had a losing season, compiling a 103-32-7 regular-season record, according to the NFL. He has the most wins of any Raiders coach.
Madden coached the Raiders for 10 seasons and to a win in Super Bowl XI in 1977 over the Minnesota Vikings. The Raiders that season put together a 13-1 record.
Fred Biletnikoff, a former wide receiver with the Raiders, said of Madden in a video played at the memorial, “He got more excited than the players.”
Madden retired from coaching following the 1979 season. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame as a coach in 2006. As an analyst, Madden covered 11 Super Bowls until his final call in Super Bowl XLIII.
Madden earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in education in 1961 from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. During his time at Cal Poly, Madden played both offense and defense for the football team and as a catcher on the baseball team.
Madden played professional football with the Philadelphia Eagles. Then he coached Allan Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, and then San Diego State University. He started coaching in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders in 1967.
From the field to the booth
Following his retirement from coaching, Madden joined CBS to broadcast football. His broadcasting became popular even with casual fans.
Former KCBS Radio news anchor Stan Bunger said at the memorial that Madden invented the role of the modern football analyst.
Bunger called Madden “the conscience of the National Football League.”
Madden nurtured a wildly popular video game Madden NFL, which “taught so many people about the game of football,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recorded interview.
“There really wasn’t a guy who loved football more than John Madden,” Goodell said. “He was a great friend of football.”
Madden at times advised Goodell, who said “Coach” was “really big on safety.”
“He had time for them all. Time. The greatest currency. And he had it.”Jim Nance, former John Madden broadcasting colleague
Goodell added that Madden also understood the business of football, such as how it was affecting fans and television.
“He was a really warm, genuine person,” Goodell said. “There was nothing that wasn’t authentic about Coach Madden.”
Broadcaster Jim Nance said in a video played for attendees that Madden “had time for people.”
“He had time for them all,” Nance said. “Time. The greatest currency. And he had it.”
“John believes in the town of Oakland,” Madden’s wife of 62 years Virginia Madden said to those attending and everyone watching “Most of all he believed in the Raiders, the Oakland Raiders.”
She added that Oakland needs a football team.
“I know he’s up there,” she said. “I know he’s smiling down.”
“He’s still with us,” the couple’s son Mike Madden said at the celebration. “He’s inside all of us and he will be for the rest of our lives.”
Videos of highlights from Monday’s memorial service can be viewed on the NFL’s website.