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John Madden: Remembering the Legend Behind Madden NFL

John Madden, the Hall of Fame coach and man behind one of the most success franchises in all of video games passed away Tuesday at the age of 85.

Since 1988, Madden’s name is synonymous with the game of football. With his untimely passing, we would be remiss to mention his importance to sports gaming and the Madden franchise. He lent his voice, appearance, and name to the Madden NFL series from 1988 to 2009. Even after his retirement, John Madden continued to lend his advice and namesake to the Madden NFL franchise.

Who Was John Madden?

John Madden was an all-conference offensive tackle at Cal Poly in 1958. He was drafted in the 21st round (244th) overall to the Philadelphia Eagles before sustaining a knee injury that would end his playing career. However, it was a minor setback to a major comeback for him. It was from there that his prolific coaching career began.

In 1960, Madden became the assistant coach at Allan Hancock College. Madden was promoted to head coach in 1962. He moved on to being the defensive coordinator at San Diego State. He coached there until 1966. In his last year, the 1966 Aztecs ranked among the top small colleges in the country.

Building on that success, Madden was hired by Al Davis to become the linebackers coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1967. 2 years later, Madden was promoted to head coach after John Rauch left to coach the Bills. From there, Madden became one of the best coaches of all time. He never had a losing record as a coach and won the Superbowl in 1976.

Importance to Madden NFL

Electronic Arts needed a big name to attach to the birth of the football franchise. Madden lent his name and playbooks to EA. It made the game sophisticated for the time, possessing real playbooks, and roster breakdowns for each team. In 1989 the John Madden Football was released on the Apple 2 and was a big success.

In 1990, John Madden Football made its console debut on the Sega Genesis. The success of John Madden Football pioneered Electronic Arts to being the sports titan we know today. From there, Madden NFL games continued to see success until Sony released the NFL Gameday for the Playstation in 1996. Madden NFL had to adjust to the new technology and John Madden was along for the ride. He lent his ear to EA to ensure that realism was at the forefront of Madden NFL games. 

As the years went on, Madden continued to have a say in the direction of the franchise. Despite stepping aside in the late 2000s, his name continued to be the namesake of the franchise. And it’s easy to say that without John Madden, sports gaming would be nowhere near as big as it is today.

Rest in Peace Coach, your importance to the gaming industry cannot be understated.

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