Boom! A Madden Timeline

Over the course of his lifetime, John Madden broke records and became a cultural icon while changing America’s relationship with the sport of football. Relive a few major moments from the groundbreaking Mustang’s life and career.

A street view of Austin, Minnesota

John Madden is born on April 10 in Austin, Minnesota. The family eventually relocates to Daly City, California, where John graduates from Jefferson High School in 1954.

A young Madden in a football uniform lines up in three-point stance with a teammate

Madden gets his first taste of college football, playing one season at College of San Mateo before transferring to University of Oregon on a football scholarship.

Madden's Cal Poly yearbook photo

Madden transfers to Cal Poly to study physical education, playing football as both an offensive and defensive lineman and playing baseball as a catcher.

lineart of a football

Madden is drafted in the 21st round by the Philadelphia Eagles, but critically injures his knee in training camp before playing a regular season game.

Madden with Bobby Beathard at commencement

Madden returns to Cal Poly and completes his degree in physical education.

A young Virginia and John, in wedding attire, stand in front of their wedding cake

John and Virginia get married in Santa Maria, California.

lineart of a graduation cap

John and Virginia earn their master’s degrees in education. 

A young Madden leans over a notebook

After two seasons as assistant coach, Madden lands his first head coaching job at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California.

A young Madden, in shirt and tie, shades his eyes on the sidelines at an SDSU game

Madden hired as defensive assistant coach for the San Diego State Aztecs.

Madden speaks with a Raiders quarterback on the sidelines at a game

Al Davis hires Madden as linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders.

Two Raiders players carry Madden onto the field in a packed football stadium

Madden succeeds John Rauch as Oakland Raiders head coach, becoming the youngest head coach in NFL history.

Raiders players hoist Madden into the air following their Super Bowl victory

The Raiders defeat the Minnesota Vikings at Super Bowl XI, earning Madden his first and only NFL title.

lineart of a football

Madden retires from coaching, having gone 103-32-7 in 11 winning seasons with the Raiders. He still holds the Raiders record for most wins as head coach, and the league record for highest winning percentage of any head coach in NFL history.

lineart image of a microphone

CBS Sports hires Madden as a color commentator for games on TV.

Madden sits in a broadcast booth with partner Pat Summerall

CBS pairs Madden with Pat Summerall for the first time, making them the network’s top commentary team. The duo would go on to cover 11 Super Bowls across four networks. 

Madden bursts through a title card in a scene from a 1981 Miller Lite commercial

The first of many commercials featuring Madden — a Miller Lite ad spoofing his rambunctious sideline persona — airs on TV.

lineart of a television

Madden hosts Saturday Night Live.

A stack of colorful books authored by John Madden

Madden publishes his first book, “Hey Wait a Minute (I Wrote a Book!)”

A Cal Poly Athletics hall of fame patch sits on a program and archive photo

Cal Poly inducts Madden as a charter member of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

A gameplay screen shot of an early edition of John Madden Football video game

John Madden Football, the first installment of the Madden NFL video game series, is released. Madden advised on the development of the game in addition to recording voiceover commentary. The ongoing franchise has since sold more than 250 million copies. 

A screenshot of John Madden giving thumbs up in the film Little Giants

Madden appears as himself in the film Little Giants. 

Madden carves into a large cooked bird

Madden introduces America to the turducken, a New Orleans delicacy consisting of a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken, while broadcasting a game between the New Orleans Saints and the St. Louis Rams.

Madden, in a gold jacket, smiles as he holds up a ring in front of a crowd

Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, something he said was one of the greatest accomplishments of his life

Two Emmy award statues belonging to John Madden

Madden retires from broadcasting, having won 16 Emmy awards over 30 years.

a lineart image of an award medal

The Madden family establishes scholarships to send students from the East Bay to Cal Poly 

John Madden in 2021

Cal Poly awards Madden an honorary doctorate, and he gives a commencement speech via video link at the spring graduation ceremony.

Bust of John Madden from the Football Hall of Fame

Madden passes away on December 28, just two days after his and Virginia’s 62nd wedding anniversary.