John Madden began his pro football coaching career in 1967 as the Oakland Raiders’ linebackers coach. After two seasons, he was elevated to head coach. At 32 years of age when he was hired, he became the youngest head coach in the American Football League. In his first year at the Raiders’ helm, Madden earned American Football League Coach of the Year honors as he led the team to a 12-1-1 record and an AFL Western Division title.
Madden coached the Raiders for 10 seasons, posting a regular season record of 103 wins, 32 losses and 7 ties. During that time, he guided the team to seven Western Division titles, including five in a row from 1972 to 1976. Under Madden’s guidance, Oakland never experienced a losing season. Madden’s Raiders made eight playoff appearances, including a 37-31 six-quarter AFC Divisional Playoff win over the Baltimore Colts in 1977. Perennial winners, the team never finished with fewer than 8 wins in the then-14 game season (8-4-2 in 1970, 1971).
Six times in 10 seasons, Oakland recorded 10 or more victories. In 1976, the coach guided his team to a near-perfect 13-1 record to win the AFC Western Division. The success continued in the post-season with wins over New England in the divisional playoff game and a commanding 24-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Madden and the Raiders capped the 1976 season with a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Between the 1976 and 1977 seasons, the Raiders won 17 consecutive games, one short of the then-NFL record for consecutive wins.
Madden’s .759 regular season winning percentage ranks as highest ever among coaches with 100 career victories. Only Hall of Fame coaches George Halas and Curly Lambeau had reached 100 career wins at an earlier age.
Before coaching in Oakland, Madden was the defensive coordinator at San Diego State, from 1964-1966, where the Aztecs were ranked first among small colleges with a 26-4 record. From 1960-1963 he coached at Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, California. Madden started on both offense and defense as a player for California Polytechnic College at San Luis Obispo in 1957 and 1958, and was voted to the All-Conference team. The Philadelphia Eagles selected him as a future choice in the 21st round of the 1958 NFL Draft, but a knee injury in his rookie season prematurely ended his playing career.
Source: Pro Football Hall of Fame
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