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Sports Then and Now



Happy 85th Birthday John Madden 5

Posted on April 09, 2021 by Dean Hybl
John Madden led the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI.

Whether from his days as a coach, broadcaster or simply as the name on a video game, John Madden is a football legend known by fans of all generations.

It seems hard to believe that Madden will celebrate his 85th birthday on April 10th. Almost as surprising is that it has been more than a dozen years since Madden retired from broadcasting after three decades as the preeminent color commentator on television. But, of course, his influence lives on in the leading football video game known as Madden NFL.

The journey for Madden from a 21st round NFL Draft pick to the most recognized person in the NFL is truly a remarkable one.

A talented multi-sport athlete, Madden was a boyhood friend of John Robinson, who would go on to a successful career as head coach at the University of Southern California and with the Los Angeles Rams.

Madden played college football at the College of San Mateo for a year, earning a scholarship to the University of Oregon. However, an injury forced him to redshirt and he ultimately finished his college career playing two seasons as a two-way player at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He was also a catcher on the Cal-Poly baseball team.

The Philadelphia Eagles selected Madden in the 21st round (244th overall pick) of the 1958 NFL Draft. However, a knee injury suffered in training camp ended his dream of playing in the NFL.

After completing his degree, Madden became an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. He was promoted to head coach in 1962.

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    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
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