NFL icon John Madden’s death last December evoked fond memories of his long career as a broadcaster, from decades of classic calls to his on-air love of Thanksgiving.
Before all of the epic moments in the booth, however, Madden established himself as one of the sport’s most successful coaches.
Madden won a Super Bowl, made a habit of reaching conference championship games, and remains the winningest coach in Raiders history.
He accomplished more in 10 years on the sidelines than most coaches do in a lifetime. With that being said, why did Madden make the decision to retire from coaching at only 42 years of age?
The Sporting News takes a look at Madden’s transition from coaching phenom to broadcasting icon.
Why did John Madden retire from coaching?
The Raiders put together a 10th consecutive winning season under Madden in 1978, but they missed the playoffs for the first time since 1971.
Days after the season ended, Madden made it official: His coaching career was over. The 42-year-old cited burnout and deteriorating health from an ulcer condition.
While he was emotional during his announcement, Madden left no room for speculation.
“I gave it everything I have and just don’t have anything left,” he told reporters, adding, “I’m retiring from football coaching, and I’m never going to coach again in my life.”
Madden told the truth. He never coached again, but he didn’t take much of a break from football. The legendary coach was in the booth for CBS as a color commentator in 1979, and he was promoted to CBS’ top broadcasting team two years later.
Madden would go on to call 11 different Super Bowls as an analyst – eight with Pat Summerall and another three with Al Michaels. While he dealt with health issues over the years, Madden didn’t miss a game as a broadcaster for 28 consecutive years from 1980 to 2008.
Madden retired from broadcasting in 2009. Like his first retirement, the decision was final.
What teams did John Madden coach?
Madden spent his entire NFL coaching career with the Raiders, though he gained some experience in the college ranks in the decade before he was hired.
Madden served as head coach at Allan Hancock College in California from 1961-1962 before joining future NFL coaching legend Don Coryell’s staff at San Diego State.
After four years with the Aztecs, Madden became the Raiders’ linebackers coach in 1967 and was promoted to head coach two seasons later.
John Madden coaching record
Madden’s .759 winning percentage is the highest mark of any head coach in the Super Bowl era (min. 50 games). He never had a losing record in 10 seasons as the Raiders’ head coach, and he remains the franchise wins leader more than four decades after his retirement.
Madden went 9-7 in his playoff career and was the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl – a distinction he held until Jon Gruden won as coach of the Raiders after the 2002 season. Mike Tomlin and Sean McVay have since broken Gruden’s record.