‘Eagles Legend’ John Madden Dies at 85: Best Calls Remembered

john madden

Getty Former Raiders head coach John Madden.

John Madden has passed away at the age of 85. The football icon was being celebrated throughout the NFL community on Tuesday night for his legendary work as a Super Bowl-winning coach and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster.

Madden filled the air on gamedays with an expert level of charm, including a natural ability to explain plays on his trusty Telestrator. His stamp on the sport was cemented further following the creation of the Madden NFL video game, a title that put Electronic Arts on the map while revolutionizing the industry. Prior to all that, Madden was a football player who was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 21st round of the 1958 NFL draft.

He didn’t last long in Philly or anywhere else. Madden suffered a knee injury during Eagles’ training camp, according to NFL Media, and never played a down of professional football. The story goes that the curious-minded future coach started studying film with Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin while he was rehabbing. Needless to say, he was a quick learner.

He took his first job as an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College in 1960 and eventually landed with the Oakland Raiders seven years later. Madden guided them to a Super Bowl championship in 1976 and retired with a record of 103-32-7. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 alongside Eagles legend Reggie White.

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Eagles Mourn Passing of Football Icon

It’s hard for any team other than the Oakland Raiders to really claim Madden. He was the inspiration behind the Black Hole and a big reason why they became one of the most feared franchises in NFL history. However, the Eagles provided the backdrop for the first NFL locker room he ever walked into. For that, the organization carried extra heavy hearts after losing one of their own.

“John Madden is a sports icon whose contributions to the game of football are countless,” the team wrote on Twitter. “His words brought Philadelphia Eagles football vividly into the homes and hearts of our fans everywhere. We extend our condolences to his family and many friends.”


Soundtrack to Many People’s Childhood

This reporter can attest to the fact that Madden’s voice was the only one that mattered on Sundays. It was louder and way more powerful than mom or dad. He called some of the most epic moments in Eagles history during nationally-televised games, like Randall Cunningham leaping over the Giants and the Cowboys getting stuffed twice in a row on fourth down.

Let’s not forget Madden’s call on Donovan McNabb’s 14-second scramble pass to Freddie Mitchell. Or his final Eagles-Giants broadcast in 2008.

“Football is what I am,” Madden said, via NFL Media. “I didn’t go into it to make a living or because I enjoyed it. There is much more to it than just enjoying it. I am totally consumed by football, totally involved.”

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