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Madden Talks Hall of Fame

July 12, 2006

Legendary Raiders head coach John Madden will take his place among professional sports' immortals when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, August 5th. Raiders owner and Hall of Fame enshrinee Al Davis will present Madden for induction - it will mark the ninth time he has served in that role.
According to Madden, he was a bit taken aback when he heard the news of his selection and is still in awe after having the past few months to reflect. "It's just so big, it's hard to imagine. You know, when I was voted in, it was the day before the Super Bowl. I had that, then the excitement of it. I thought I was going to get a call before. When I didn't get a call, I didn't think I made it," Madden explained.

"Then I'm watching the NFL Network, Rich Eisen is up there announcing it. He goes 'Troy Aikman, Harry Carson,' then he said 'John Madden.' I don't remember anything for the next eight or 10 hours. So you have all this time to think about what happened, your whole career, all the players and everyone. You have the election, then you have all the time to think about it. Now it's in a couple of weeks. That's going to be one of the biggest weekends of my life," Madden said.

Madden joined the Raiders as linebackers coach in 1967 and served in that capacity for two seasons until he was named to succeed John Rauch as head coach at age 32 in 1969. During his 10-year tenure, Madden compiled a 103-32-7 regular season record. His .759 regular season winning percentage is the highest in the history of professional football among head coaches with at least 100 career victories. At age 42, he became the third-youngest coach to reach 100 wins, behind only fellow Hall of Famers George Halas and Curly Lambeau.

Madden led the Silver and Black to the franchise's first World Championship of Professional Football following the 1976 season when his Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings, 32-14, in Super Bowl XI. He took his teams to the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons on the sideline, posting a 9-7 overall record, guiding them to the AFL or AFC Championship Game seven times.

He still has vivid memories of the Super Bowl experience. "Well, the thing I remember after that game, the next week I was at a banquet. Roger Staubach was there. He came up and shook my hand and said, 'One thing about it, they can never say you can't win the big one again for the rest of your life.' And that was pretty strong because Roger had gone through that same thing," Madden recalled. "Everyone kind of goes through that, where you have a good team, you're getting close, but you haven't won it. That's your, 'Yeah, but.' They have a good record, yeah, they win a lot of games, win divisions, but they never won the Super Bowl. When you win the Super Bowl, that eliminates all your 'Yeah, but's.' It was just a great year, a great time. It was in Pasadena. Everything just fell right for us. Not only that year, but that day. It's still something that is imprinted on my mind."

The man who led the Raiders to victory in such memorable classics as The Sea of Hands game against the Miami Dolphins and the Holy Roller against San Diego credits Al Davis for being a guiding light during his coaching career.

"Al Davis has been the biggest influence in my professional football life. I mean, he was a guy that gave me an opportunity, one, to get into professional football in 1967 as an assistant coach, and then at the age of 32, giving me the opportunity to be the head coach. That was something that was very special," Madden said.

"I mean, there weren't a lot of people that thought John Madden, the linebacker coach, is going to be the head coach of the Raiders. Al believed in me, then gave me the opportunity. During the time, the 10 years I was head coach, he gave me everything. I was never turned down for one thing that I ever wanted for football by Al Davis," Madden explained.

"Since I've been out, we're still friends. We still see each other all the time," Madden continued. "I just had dinner with him last week on his birthday. He's one of my best friends in life. You know, if it weren't for Al, you don't know where you would have gone."

Since leaving the sidelines, Madden has enjoyed tremendous success as a television broadcaster and the driving force behind one of the most popular video game franchises of all-time and has been able to stay close to a game he truly loves. Madden compiled a 36-16-2 record against the 10 future Hall of Fame coaches against whom he competed, finishing his career with a winning record against each one.

But the affable and jovial Madden is quick to credit the cast of characters who made up the Raiders roster. "I had great players. We had fun. I always felt if it's a game, it has to be fun. The thing I think people missed a lot is I have a core of not only great players but great people. They were solid people. Jim Otto, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Willie Brown, Dave Casper, Fred Biletnikoff. Those were solid, solid people," Madden said.

"When a character would come in, he didn't lead the band; the band was being led by pretty solid guys. You had that. It was just a break in the monotony. Ted Hendricks was probably the biggest combination of a guy that was a character, great player, Hall of Famer," Madden said. "You don't want characters just because they're characters. I got Ted Hendricks, who was a great player, a Hall of Fame player, now he's a character. I liked that, too."

When he takes his rightful place in Canton, he will be recognized for his accomplishments as a head football coach. Those Raiders teams weren't a part of history - they made history. Madden coached nine Raiders who are now Hall of Famers. He was given the opportunity to be a head coach by a Hall of Famer. On August 5th, John Madden will become a Hall of Famer as well.
More from Madden...

Madden will have Davis as presenter

By Jim Jenkins
Published 12:01 am PDT Thursday, July 13, 2006

When notified in February that he had been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, John Madden knew right away who his presenter should be at the induction ceremonies Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio.

The easy choice: Raiders owner Al Davis, who not only hired Madden to coach his team at age 32 in 1969, the former coach said Wednesday, but "was the biggest influence in my professional life."

In 1992, when Davis was inducted into the Hall, Madden made the pre-enshrinement speech on behalf of his ex-boss. Now that the roles have been reversed, the only question seems to be, is Davis physically up to the task? Apparently, he is.

Madden, speaking on a national conference call, said he and Davis had dinner last week. The occasion was Davis' 77th birthday July 4.
Davis' health has been suspect since he began using a walker last year. However, a team spokesman said Wednesday that Davis is looking forward to heading a large contingent of employees, former players and coaches and fans to Canton to honor Madden and attend the Aug. 6 Hall of Fame exhibition game between the Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.

Madden and Al Michaels, former partners for ABC's "Monday Night Football" telecasts, are scheduled to make their debuts for NBC's Sunday night games.

Madden said that during his rise from a little-known assistant coach to his 10-year run as the Raiders' head coach, culminating in a Super Bowl championship, he couldn't have had more support.

"I was never turned down for one thing that I ever wanted for football by Al Davis," he said.

Madden, 70, said he continues on an emotional roller coaster at the prospect of being included among the game's immortals.

Ironically, the Raiders' Hall of Fame opponent is the Eagles, a team for which Madden nearly played. A camp knee injury ended the career of the rookie guard, who was drafted in the 21st round in 1958 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Said Madden of the historical connections and excitement that awaits: "If a guy my size can float, I'm floating."

Ticket sales -- Holders of Raiders season tickets, club seats and suites will be given priority on a sale of individual home game tickets at 10 a.m. July 19.

The remaining individual game tickets will be made available to the general public at 10 a.m. Aug. 2.

The presale priority, merchandise and travel discounts are among perks provided by the Raiders since they took over box office operations this year.
More on Madden...

A football home for the football man

Madden has cruised everywhere for the sport; Hall is next stop

Former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden is elated to be heading for the NFL Hall of Fame. He will be inducted on Aug. 6.



Last Updated: July 14, 2006, 05:08:13 AM PDT

No football man has merged credibility and likability better than John Madden.
After all, why do we care that he can't ride airplanes or that he's overweight, or that when he sneezes, Corporate America reaches for Kleenex? He's simply Madden, stamped with the NFL's seal of approval and, right now, that's more than enough.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Madden, 70, said during a teleconference call this week. "I never really had a job. I was a football player, then a football coach, then a football broadcaster. It's been my life. Pro football has been my life since 1967. I've enjoyed every part of it. Never once did it ever feel like work."

It's easy, too easy, to fall into Madden's I'm-just-a-lucky-guy shtick, probably because he's never taken himself too seriously and he's gained great mileage from his ah-shucks persona. Such spin leads to a fashionable argument that his post-coaching successes are the major reasons why he'll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in three weeks.

Don't buy it. He's been a gold strike for the NFL for decades, but before the announcer, author and commercial pitchman came the coach, and Madden was a great coach.

His 10 seasons with the Oakland Raiders (1969-78) produced a won-loss percentage of .759, the best in NFL history for a coach with more than 100 wins. Counting playoff games, he trails only the legendary Vince Lombardi.

Critics point out that Madden's star-studded Raiders should have won more than just Super Bowl X in 1977. Fact is, the Raiders of that era were betrayed by several factors — the presence of great teams in Pittsburgh and Miami and some miserable luck (read: The Immaculate Reception in 1972).

"Everyone kind of goes through that, where you have a good team, you're getting close, but you haven't won it," he said. "They have a good record, yeah, they win a lot of games, win divisions, but they never won the Super Bowl. When you win the Super Bowl, that eliminates all your 'Yeah, buts.'"

Madden's genius didn't come from Xs and Os or brilliant strategy. As a player, he was a footnote, a 21st-round draft pick (Philadelphia) who suffered a knee injury and never played a professional game. No, his genius was born from his personality and, equally important, a jewel-cutter's feel for his players.

I mean, he had only three rules: 1. Be on time, 2. Pay attention, and 3. Play like hell when I tell you to. Replace "play" with "work," and it's advice worth heeding for any boss.

Madden would succeed today, but he'd require a savvy general manager to navigate the choppy waters of free agency.

"I tell coaches this all the time. I say, 'What you're doing now is tougher than what I did.' I think it's because of free agency," he said. "We used to be able to draft players, develop them, take an offensive lineman and put him on a 10- or 12-year program. This guy won't play for two or three years, but once he starts, he'll start eight or 10 years for us."

The most amazing element about Madden's career, however, happened since he left the field. Who figured a rough-around-the-edges football coach would blossom into an almost-perfect spokesman for Ace Hardware, Verizon Wireless, Rent-a-Center, Miller Lite, Sirius Satellite Radio and Tinactin? Still, he dismisses as a happy accident the popular NFL-branded home video game series that has carried his name since 1991.

"When we first started, we were going to make a computer game," he said. "We stumbled upon it."

Wait a minute. He rakes in an estimated $40 million a year, so something we identify as real fuels this engine.

By now, any other consumer jockey would have fallen into the celebrity black hole also known as overexposure. Instead, we hear Madden's trademark "Boom!" about every 15 minutes and then we buy the product he's pushing. He's the apple that never rots, the milk that never sours.

If only Barry Bonds had followed Madden's template. Then again, there's only one.

We can't avoid Madden. He's everywhere — commercials, video games, Monday Night Football the last four years, even gliding down America's freeways in his Maddencruiser. When he switches to NBC this fall for the new Sunday night NFL series, he'll be the first sportscaster to have worked for all "Big Four" networks.

All from a Daly City-raised guy who talks football like the man sitting on the next bar stool.
More on Madden...

"Len Pasquarelli is reporting that Big John has invited all of his former players to Canton for Hall of Fame weekend. He says the ex-Raiders are coming in droves, including a charter of 300 plus from the Bay Area. There are so many that it's affected the hotel availability in Canton, which doesn't have that many hotels to begin with."
Madden's many faces


As Raiders coach, John Madden made an impact by guiding some of the wackier athletes in professional sports. But today many more people know him as an NFL broadcaster than as a Super Bowl-winning coach, and younger folks identify him as the guy whose name is on the cover of their favorite video game.

Last week, Madden, who will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, discussed the many phases of his football life during a news teleconference.

On coaching the renegade Raiders: ``You don't want characters just because they're characters -- `Boy, I got a whole bunch of characters. None of them can play football, but they're funnier than hell.' I got Ted Hendricks, who was a great player, a Hall of Fame player, now he's a character. I liked that, too.''

On broadcasting vs. coaching: ``People say, `Is broadcasting the same as coaching?' I say, `Hell, no.' Coaching, you win and lose. Broadcasting, you don't win and lose. Coaching was a lot bigger than broadcasting.''

On the birth of his video game: ``When I got out of coaching, I had taught a class at the University of California, an extension class on football for fans. I was looking for tools. I was showing them films. I was going to write a textbook. Trip Hawkins came to me about making it a game for computers. . . . I figured it would be a good teaching tool, a good coaching tool. . . . Then, boom, lo and behold, here comes the hardware for video games and we already had the software. There we go.''

On which is bigger, winning a Super Bowl or going into the Hall of Fame: ``I think as a coach, as part of a team, I think winning the Super Bowl is. Then as an individual, going into the Hall of Fame is. . . . I'll be a hog and pick both of them.''
Busy Hall of Fame weekend awaits Madden

THE JOHN MADDEN countdown has officially begun. In fewer than three weeks, Madden will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
That will happen on Saturday, Aug.5.

Then the next day, he and Al Michaels will call the Raiders-Eagles Hall of Fame exhibition game — a somewhat notable broadcast in that it will be the first NBC "Sunday Night Football" telecast. Kickoff is 5 p.m.

"Everything has aligned right," Madden said in a conference call last week. "It feels pretty good, to tell you the truth. If a guy my size can float, I'm floating."

During the teleconference, Madden talked about how easy it was for him to select Al Davis, who turned 77 on July 4, to be his presenter at his induction ceremony.

The Raiders owner not only hired Madden to coach his team at age 32 in 1969, Madden said, but "he was the biggest influence in my professional life."

Madden, 70, will go into the shrine alongside Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, Warren Moon, Reggie White and Rayfield Wright — and the ceremonies will be carried live on ESPN from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

In perhaps a fitting tribute to Madden, the event that comes on ESPN right afterward: taped earlier that day in Sheboygan, Wis., the 2006 World Bratwurst Eating Championships.
Hall recall: John Madden

Gil Brandt

(July 21, 2006) -- Al Davis has never been one to shy away from taking chances. When he hired Jon Gruden at the age of 34 before the 1998 season to be the Raiders' newest head coach, many wondered if Gruden was too young to handle the job. He wasn't, and Davis didn't make this leap without precedence.

Early in 1969 when Raiders head coach John Rauch left for the same position with the Buffalo Bills, Davis didn't hesitate to name linebackers coach John Madden as Rauch's replacement. The 32-year-old Madden became one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history, and he went on to an unprecedented 10-year run that saw the Raiders make the playoffs eight times, win seven division titles, and reach 10-plus wins on six occasions.

Taken as a 21st-round (No. 244 overall) tackle in the 1958 draft, I don't have any personal scouting reports for his on-field ability because the Cowboys were still two years away from becoming a franchise. Unfortunately, Madden's playing career was cut short due to an injury. He spent his time on the injured reserve wisely, though, learning the game in the film room from a quarterback's point of view with future Hall of Famer Norm "Dutch" Van Brocklin, who befriended the rookie and took Madden under his wing.

Madden's coaching career had him work under legendary offensive genius Don Coryell at San Diego State in the mid-1960s. I remember him from my visits to the school as a high-energy person with a passion for the game. (In his three years as defensive coordinator, the Aztecs went 27-4 and gave up just 263 points in those 31 games.) His passion is a trait you can still hear in the broadcast booth each and every week. He always demonstrated an amazing ability to remember the people he met.

For Madden, it was onto the Raiders as a linebackers coach for two years, starting in 1967. I remember meeting with him during his first training camp as head coach in 1969, as our Dallas Cowboys training camp was in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Even though there was a player's strike underway, Madden wanted to have a scrimmage/practice game at the Oakland Coliseum. But since he didn't want the game billed as the Raiders against the Cowboys because of the strike, his idea was to call it the Ron Wolf vs. Gil Brandt game. Madden figured the game should be named for the personnel men that drafted these players, rather than the teams. It was to feature only rookie and first-year players. Roger Staubach and Ken Stabler were there on the field in a game won by the Raiders 30-0.

The only time the Cowboys missed the playoffs in a 20-year span was in 1974 when Madden's Raiders were led by a 47-year-old George Blanda. They beat us 27-23 in the final game of the regular season, which was played on a Sunday night, to knock us out of the race.

Madden's coaching career reached its pinnacle in 1976 when the Raiders ran away from the rest of the league with a 13-1 regular-season record, and took down the Patriots and arch-rival Steelers in the AFC playoffs to advance to Super Bowl XI in Pasadena, Calif. A convincing 32-14 win over Bud Grant's Vikings gave Madden, Davis and the Raiders their first-ever championship trophy, and cemented Madden as a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

With a career regular-season record of 103-32-7, Madden compiled the highest winning percentage in the history of the NFL amongst coaches with at least 100 victories. His journey to 100 wins was the third fastest in NFL annals, with only legendary HOF coaches George Halas and Curly Lambeau getting there quicker. Isn't it ironic that a team like the Raiders, which was known for taking on veterans as players, hired one of the youngest coaches ever to lead them?

Since he left coaching at such an early age, then-commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted to hire him to work in the league office. But Madden turned the job down because he had no interest in moving to New York City from Northern California. The following year he made the transition to the broadcast booth, and a pop culture icon was born. Because of his knowledge of the game, both offensively and defensively, Madden was able to help in the creation of the ultra-successful video game that bears his name. That video game sells as many as 5 million copies a year.

John Madden is one of a kind. And the one thing that always distinguished Madden from the other coaches was his short sleeve shirt and tie on the sideline.

Did you know?

John Madden is the author/co-author of four books, each written with New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson. All of them reached the New York Times Best Seller List.

During his 10 years as a head coach, Madden won at least one game against all 27 teams that were in the league at the time (1969-78). He did not have a losing record against a single opponent he played during the regular season.

When the 2006 season begins, Madden will be the first broadcaster to have worked all of the "big four" U.S. television networks.
A loss for words?

By Dennis Georgatos

With his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame looming, it is nervous time again for John Madden.

The former Raiders coach says he intends to give his acceptance speech off notes rather than reading it from a prepared script. Although the plan allows him to be spontaneous, Madden concedes he's a little anxious. A recent chat with Canton classmate Troy Aikman did nothing to help.

``He said he's had his speech written for two months,'' Madden said last week. ``I thought, `Geez, I'm way behind on this.'

``But I'm just not one to write speeches, because I'm not a good reader of speeches. There's those that can read a speech and they look like they're winging it and then there's those that give a speech and they look like they're reading it, because they are.''

Madden, whose .759 regular-season winning percentage ranks highest among coaches with at least 100 victories, said he has put together a rough outline of his speech. It includes a few general reminders of what he wants to say at the Aug. 5 induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.

``It does kind of make me nervous, because this is something I've never done before or will do again,'' Madden said. ``But whenever I've given a speech, whether as a teacher, coach or broadcaster, I've never really read anything. I've always just had some notes and kind of said what I feel.''

If nothing else, Madden will have plenty of time to contemplate his speech while traveling to Canton. Though he chartered a jetliner for about 140 relatives and friends, the Pleasanton resident will go by bus.

``About a week from now, I'll be between here and Canton on the bus,'' Madden said. ``It's just very exciting. I talked to Steve Young after he went through it, and he told me it was like putting on three weddings.

``You think about it, and it's so true. There's the hotels and dinners. You have a ceremony, a reception and a party. That's what you do for a wedding. Steve said you have to multiply that by three to put in perspective how big this is going to be.''
I don't blame him for being a speech in front of millions? I'd have a nervous breakdown for sure! :(
Madden on the air

John Madden, about to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame largely on the basis of his coaching career in Oakland, has been a constant presence lately – both figuratively (everyone older than 40 has been asked to comment on his tenure) and literally (he visited training camp Tuesday to scout the Raiders in preparation for the telecast of the Hall of Fame Game).

With so much exposure, and all that came before, it’s hard to believe there’s a Madden story that hasn’t made the rounds. But Raiders coach Art Shell, who played under Madden for 10 years, told one Monday that he claimed to have been sitting on.

It was the week before the game at Denver one year, and Madden was in a typical frenzy.

“You know,” Shell explained, “‘You guys gotta take care of yourselves, and I expect you to be in much better shape than you have been. Some of you guys are out carousing a little bit and you need to kind of stay home. If you’re not married you need to find you a wife,’ and all those kind of things.”

The game finally arrived, and not long into it, Madden got overexcited and started to hyperventilate on the sidelines.

“And the next thing you know, the players come off the field and who’s on the oxygen tank? It’s Big John,” Shell said. “We gave him a hard time: ‘You talk about us being in shape, look at you. We can’t even get to the oxygen tank because of you.'”

During his visit to Napa, Madden returned the favor, needling Shell while confirming that he never asked his big left tackle to weigh in.

“What am I going to do about it?” Madden asked. “Am I going to say, ‘OK, Art, you weigh too much, you can’t play?’ He was the best tackle in football. I made one deal with him: When you walk away, and I’m looking at you from behind, if I can’t see daylight between your legs then you have to lose weight. … And I’d say to him every once in a while, ‘There’s not too much daylight there.’ And he’d say, ‘OK, OK, I got you.’ But I wouldn’t put him on the scale.”
The Class of 2006: John Madden

Before he became the top football analyst on television, the name behind the best-selling video-game franchise in history and a world-class pitchman in commercials, the big guy was a football coach. He was pretty good at that, too Even now, all these years after his last game, there are still people who call him Coach. John Madden will always answer to that word, because he believes it will always describe him. "Coaching isn't something you do," he once said. "It's something you are." Call him an ex-coach, a retired coach, a coach turned broadcaster and now a Hall of Fame coach -- it doesn't matter, as long as you realize that Madden was, is and will always be a coach.

It's getting increasingly difficult to remember that these days, now that Madden has filled up his résumé with other pursuits. The 10-year-old who plays one of the video games bearing his name might not have any idea that Madden once coached the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl championship. The 20-year-old who has grown up listening to Madden's voice providing colorful commentary on seemingly every important NFL game of the last two decades might not realize that Madden has a career winning percentage of .759, the highest among coaches who have won at least 100 games. It would be easy to say that Madden had an unforgettable coaching career, if he hadn't accomplished so much since then to make us almost forget it.

But Madden hasn't forgotten. He remembers everything, from his early coaching days as an assistant at Allan Hancock College to his tenure with the Raiders, striding the sideline with his long sideburns and Sans-A-Belt slacks, a bellowing, intense leader who put so much of himself into his work that he had to give it up at age 42 or risk serious health problems. He battled an ulcer during the 1977 season and finally retired after the following season, saying that his doctors had told him that the years of coaching stress had left him with the body of a 70-year-old man.

But by that time Madden had already achieved everything an NFL coach could hope for. He's too humble a man to give you the impressive facts and figures from his coaching career, so let us. He guided the Oakland Raiders to 103 wins, 39 losses and seven ties in his 10-year tenure, ending in 1978. That included a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI, as well as seven AFL or AFC West division titles and six seasons of 10 wins or more.

Along the way Madden showed some of the outgoing personality and quotability that would later serve him so well as a broadcaster. "Coaches have to listen for what they don't want to hear and watch for what they don't want to see," he once said. He also believed that "the fewer rules a coach has, the fewer there are for players to break." That was the perfect approach for running the renegade Raiders, whose roster featured more than a few players -- such as linebacker Ted Hendricks, quarterback Kenny Stabler, defensive linemen Ben Davidson and Otis Sistrunk, and others -- who could walk on the wild side during the week but who showed up and did their jobs on Sundays. Other coaches would have had a hard time dealing with the players' rebellious mentality, but Madden managed to loosen the reins yet keep them in line at the same time.

During training camp in 1976 Madden received word that Hendricks had not been in his room for bed check, which meant an automatic $500 fine. When Madden called him into his office the next morning, he asked Hendricks where he had been the night before. Hendricks said he had been out late with fullback Marv Hubbard. When Madden asked why, Hendricks explained that since Hubbard had been cut the day before, ending his seven-year career with the Raiders, he had decided to take him out for one last night on the town. Madden thought a moment. "I would have done the same thing," he said. "No fine."

"John didn't try to be a drill sergeant," says former tight end Dave Casper. "A drill sergeant-type wouldn't have worked with some of the guys we had. John had the right approach, which was that as long as guys worked hard at practice and in games, and didn't break any laws during the week, then things would be O.K."

It was a coaching philosophy developed on the fly, because Madden didn't grow up with dreams of becoming a coach. He had visions of being an NFL player until an injury sidetracked him. He was a rookie guard with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1959 when a ballcarrier fell across his leg during training camp, tearing ligaments and cartilage in his left knee. He was out for the year, but the Eagles allowed him to stay with the team all season to get treatment for the injury. It was after one of his early-morning treatment sessions that he ran into Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, who often came in several hours before practice during the week to study game films of the Eagles' next opponent.

When Madden wandered into the film room one day, Van Brocklin invited him to have a seat. Before long, Van Brocklin was dissecting the film for the rookie, pointing out the vulnerabilities of the opposing defense. Madden soaked it up, then came back the next day and the day after that. He spent nearly every morning with Van Brocklin and received a football education in the process. By the time the season ended, Madden had begun to think like a coach.

That was fortunate, because he would never play another down of football. The Los Angeles Chargers of the first-year American Football League invited him to training camp the following season, but the knee still wasn't healthy, so he declined and returned to his alma mater, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, for his master's degree in physical education. As part of his studies, he helped coach the team at San Luis Obispo High, where he met a recruiter from Hancock, the junior college in Santa Maria, Calif. The J.C. team needed an assistant, and Madden filled the position. After two seasons as an assistant at Hancock, Madden was promoted to head coach, going 4-5 his first season and 8-1 his second, after which he was hired by Don Coryell as a defensive assistant at San Diego State.

His success in helping to build the San Diego State defense was noticed by Raiders owner Al Davis, who brought Madden to Oakland as the linebackers coach in 1967. Two years later Raiders head coach John Rauch resigned to take the same position with the Buffalo Bills, and Davis promoted Madden to the top job, making him what was then the youngest head coach in the NFL at age 32.

When Madden took over, it didn't take long for him to cut a distinctive figure on the sideline, with his hair usually disheveled as he paced back and forth, often arguing with the officials. He sometimes seemed as out of control on the sideline as his players were reputed to be on Saturday nights, but in reality he was in complete control. He didn't allow his players or assistants to argue with referees. "He'd say, 'Get back, I'll do the screaming and yelling around here,'" says former offensive lineman Art Shell, now the Raiders' head coach. "And he would, too. He would be yelling at the refs, yelling at his assistants, yelling at the players, yet he was always two or three plays ahead in his mind. He was one of the best I've ever seen in terms of clock management at the end of a game or a half, and you don't do that unless you're totally aware of everything that's going on."

Madden took the strategic part of the game quite seriously. He wouldn't let his players, not even Stabler, in whom he otherwise placed great trust, call timeouts on their own. On Friday nights he would attend high school football games and use them to practice his game management skills, thinking about when he would call timeouts and what he would say to his team in the situations that arose in the game.

That's the kind of thing that a man who has coaching in his blood will do. It's not so unlike what he does as a broadcaster, taking his audience inside the minds of the coaches. Madden loves to think like a coach, which is part of the reason that when he left the profession 28 years ago, everyone believed his "retirement" would be temporary. Madden was too young and too successful, the thinking went, to walk away from coaching for good. But what they didn't realize was that even though he doesn't run a team any longer, even though he has gone on to make a bigger name for himself in other areas, Madden will always remain a coach.
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