Dan Campbell, Barry Sanders Share Tributes to ‘Icon’ John Madden

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell before coaching a 2021 Lions game against the Vikings.

The NFL lost a true commanding presence on December 28 with the passing of former head coach and broadcasting icon John Madden, and as a team that routinely saw Madden in his prime, the Detroit Lions were not alone in being impacted when word of his passing came down.

Madden and his long-time partner Pat Summerall were on plenty of calls from the Motor City and touched generations of fans as a result. Lions coach Dan Campbell was amongst the people who was impacted by the duo and understood what Madden meant to the game as a result.

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Speaking with the media on Wednesday, December 29, Campbell explained the thrill of meeting Madden in person as well as some of the charms that made him great from the outside. As he said, the way Madden was able to keep re-inventing himself through the years was special and legendary.

“The first time I was able to meet him was when he used to do the training camp circuit when I was at Dallas. He was over taking to coach (Bill) Parcells and that was the first time I got to meet him. Of course I was a huge fan of John Madden. That was pretty good, pretty surreal,” Campbell explained. “Obviously ton of respect, thoughts and prayers to his family. He’s just one of those guys, an icon in our profession. To do it the way he did it, he won a Super Bowl, was a successful coach and really, he’s the name everyone remembers when you come into broadcasting, he’s one of those elite announcers. He’s embedded into the NFL if you will, and Monday Night (Football) in particular.”

It’s impossible to tell the history of football without mentioning Madden’s name multiple times, so Campbell is spot-on with his analysis of what made the coach so special on the field and off.

Campbell: Madden ‘Stood Test of Time’ as Legend

Why was Madden able to endure for so many years after he walked away from the game? As Campbell said to the media, it was the special way he connected with fans of all ages including being on the forefront of the video game world. As a result, many kids got to know Madden well through the years.

“That’s one of those where he stood the test of time because hell, he’s all over the video games. He made them. I think there’s a ton of guys who know him through the video game, not as an announcer,” Campbell quipped with a laugh. “He’s a legend is what he is.”

Madden is a legend indeed to all those who knew him however they came to discover his work.

Barry Sanders Shares How Madden Made His Dream Come True

After Madden passed away on Tuesday, December 28, the tributes began to flood in on Twitter and elsewhere for Madden. The coach touched plenty of lives from fans to the very players he covered, and that was very evident in the outpouring of support that he received from everyone, from big names to folks Madden had likely never even met in his life.

One big-time player who had some good things to say was former Lions running back Barry Sanders. Sanders was covered by Madden for years as a broadcaster, and like everyone, the former coach used to be blown away at what Sanders used to accomplish on the field. When Sanders wrote a book, Madden even wrote the forward, a gesture the running back appreciated a great deal, which he explained in his Twitter tribute.

“I am still in shock about John Madden’s passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I grew up a Raiders fan so when he agreed to write the forward to my book it was literally a dream come true,” Sanders wrote. “I will always treasure these words Coach!”

Obviously, Sanders and Campbell will more than speak for the legions of fans they represent in this case.

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