Never forget that John Madden was also one of the greatest coaches of all time

John Madden’s legacy is effectively established, however for many the man is a caricature. He’s the announcer so many grew up with, the lover of multi-legged turkeys, online game icon, and yeller of “BOOM” throughout commercials for athletes’ foot powder.

Misplaced in all that is one undeniable fact: Madden was one of the greatest coaches of all time. Maybe on par with Vince Lombardi, relying on the metric you worth. It’s okay to shudder at that comparability, but it surely’s true.


Prime 15 NFL coaches, sorted by general win proportion
Pro Football Reference

It goes with out saying that shorter teaching careers in the NFL will naturally lend themselves to raised general data. Transferring with shifting rosters and sustaining a winner over many years is one thing few coaches can ever obtain, which is why the greatness of George Halas, Don Shula, Paul Brown and Invoice Belichick has been cemented.

Nonetheless, the degree of excellence that John Madden maintained with the Raiders from 1969-1978 is similar to solely two coaches in the fashionable period: Vince Lombardi and George Allen. All three coached not less than 10 years whereas sustaining a win proportion of over .700.

Madden’s .759 report is spectacular in isolation, however mind-boggling if you see the general data of these Raiders groups. His absolute worst season resulted in a 9-7 end, his final yr as a coach earlier than leaving the NFL as a result of ulcers and burnout. Over the course of his 10 seasons as head coach the Raiders received the AFC West seven occasions, and this was at a time the place the AFC West was a brutal division. You had Hank Stram nonetheless main the Chiefs, the Broncos being an ever-dangerous menace, and Dan Fouts rising to steer the hapless Chargers.

The one potential criticism of Madden as a coach is his lone Tremendous Bowl win, however in the context of the newly merged NFL it was ludicrously troublesome to win it all. Throughout Madden’s 10 yr tenure he confronted some of the greatest groups in the historical past of soccer in the playoffs. Shula and his juggernaut Dolphins, Pittsburgh’s Metal Curtain, Tom Landry’s Cowboys, the Vikings’ Purple Folks Eaters — groups baked into the legend and ethos of the NFL and honored to at the present time.

If we need to use postseason success as the solely metric by which to evaluate a coach, positive, Madden might fall just a little brief, however that’s also extraordinarily myopic. His unbelievable reward as a coach got here from producing true staff success. When the Raiders lastly obtained over the hump and received the Tremendous Bowl in 1976 that they had unbelievable expertise to make certain, however the staff’s standout Professional Bowl expertise didn’t come from ability positions.

Exterior of quarterback Ken Stablerand tight finish Dave Casper, the Raiders’ different Professional Bowlers all performed non-glamour positions. There was Artwork Shell at left deal with, Gene Upshaw at left guard, punter Ray Man, and outdoors linebacker Phil Villapiano. These weren’t the type of world-beating positions we affiliate with dominance in the Nineteen Seventies. But, the Raiders leveraged them to nice success.

Contextualizing Madden’s teaching profession means understanding the type of man he was throughout the Nineteen Seventies and evaluating to in the present day. He was a person who didn’t have 20 years of expertise beneath his belt earlier than turning into a coach, however a Sean McVay-esque wunderkind who ascended to go coach at the age of 32, instantly turning into one of the finest coaches in the total NFL, then leaving when he was 43.


There’s an alternate timeline the place Madden decides to maintain going. He doesn’t get sick, and coaches for one more 20 years — cementing himself merely as the greatest coach of all time, however robbing us of his broadcasting profession because of this.

In the finish, Madden’s life went the path it wanted to, as we bear in mind a person who introduced a lot humor, pleasure and information to our TV screens. However let’s not forget that earlier than he was goofing round on the telestrator and cracking jokes, he occurred to be one of the greatest soccer minds to ever coach in the NFL. That half will get missed far too usually.

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