SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — John Madden, whose enthusiastic, down-to-earth style has made him one of sports’ most popular broadcasters for several decades, celebrated his 77th birthday on Wednesday.
The Hall of Fame former Oakland Raiders coach began his day, just like he typically does, with his exclusive morning sports discussion ‘Daily Madden’ on KCBS All News 704 AM & FM 106.9.
NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol has called Madden “absolutely the best sports broadcaster who ever lived.”
RELATED CONTENT: Download & Listen To The ‘Daily Madden’ Podcasts
Four years ago, Madden gave up traveling to broadcast NFL games each week of the season in order to spend more time with his family, which includes five grandchildren. Madden, who is reluctant to fly, often traveled to games in a specially equipped bus.
Madden’s blue-collar style and love for in-the-trenches football has endeared him to fans. His “Madden NFL Football” is the top-selling sports video game of all time.
Longtime broadcast partner Al Michaels has said Madden will have a unique place in pro football history.
“No one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant and more enjoyable to watch and listen to than John,” Michaels observed. “There’s never been anyone like him and he’s been the gold standard for analysts.”
Madden began his pro football career as a linebacker coach at Oakland in 1967 and was named head coach two years later, at 33 the youngest coach in what was then the American Football League.
Madden led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory and retired in 1979. He joined CBS later that year.
He worked at CBS until 1994 when he switched to Fox. He left Fox in 2002 to become the lead analyst for ABC’s “Monday Night Football” and joined NBC in 2006 when that network inaugurated a prime-time Sunday game.
Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
“There is one thing football fans have agreed on for decades: they all love John Madden,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said when Madden retired from doing game telecasts. “John was a Hall of Fame coach before becoming one of the most-celebrated personalities in sports. He has an incredible talent for explaining the game in an unpretentious way that makes it more understandable and fun.
“John’s the ultimate football fan who also happened to be an extraordinarily talented coach and broadcaster,” according to Goodell.
(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. The AP contributed background to this report.)