Sporting News named John Madden AFL Coach of the Year after the 1969 season, his first with the Raiders. In this story that appeared in the February 10, 1970 issue of TSN – under the headline “Brass Ring on Very First Try – Madden is AFL Coach of the Year” – note the captions of the story: “John Knows How for Laughs” and “Never Too Busy to Explain.” This gives you a very early look at what has become a Hall of Fame coaching career and unique impact in broadcasting.
OAKLAND, Calif .– National football selections hardly ever appeal to every fan, but it would be hard to disagree with THE SPORTING NEWS ‘choice of John Madden as AFL Coach of the Year.
In his first season as the Oakland Raiders coach, he produced a 12-1-1 record, a feat unmatched in professional football. He had replaced John Rauch, who had fled to Buffalo, complaining of interference from General Manager Al Davis.
Little known and sneered as a puppet for Davis at first, Madden, only 33, immediately blossomed with dandelion speed to rank as the most promising young coach in the game.
The former pro tackle appears to have the cadre (6-4, 260) that can handle all the problems and pressures of high-profile football, and his work capacity matches that of a computer.
The popular choice of gamers for the job, despite his inexperience, Madden communicates just as well with the front office.
Madden fulfilled the highest hopes he had for him. (The Raiders are the only professional football team to have won at least 12 games in each of the past three years.)
After the Raiders blasted Buffalo, 50-21, mid-season, Davis called his first press conference in years.
“I wanted to say it before,” he said, “but I was afraid some people would think I was just taking John as a target in case we lost. My role has changed this season from direction for help.
“I’m no more important than the lowest assistant coach today. Madden has full control of the troops. Rauch has never had such authority. Madden doesn’t need my help: Rauch did. . Madden doesn’t mind the pressure. “
Madden is smart, enthusiastic, and a completely dedicated trainer for whom time means nothing.
John knows how to laugh
Madden had only come to the Raiders two years earlier. He wanted to be a head coach someday, but even in his dreams he hadn’t seen the opportunity present itself so soon. Madden led the Raiders slowly through the first half of the season, in order to peak them for the difficult second half.
The funky, massive redhead has another rare quality in coaches: a wonderful sense of humor.
After the Raiders slaughtered Houston in the playoffs, 56-7, he greeted the writers and broadcasters alike with, “I hope you don’t expect this every week.”
Nothing seems to bother Madden. At the time, he was worried about his son, Joe, 4, who had just been taken to hospital with viral pneumonia and a temperature of 106 degrees.
And he was even affable after the Raiders were upset by Cincinnati.
“They just passed us,” he told the scribes. “They deserved to win.
Tom Grimes, the young Raiders publicist, says Madden likes to interrupt long lectures in his office by going out every now and then and chatting with other employees.
Never too busy to explain
No matter how busy he is, Madden has time for writers’ questions.
At Oakland Airport before the Raiders boarded for Denver, I was preparing a magazine article comparing Daryle Lamonica to Roman Gabriel. Seeing Madden go by, I asked him to explain any differences they had in setting up and passing.
Little did I know at the time Madden was chatting with officials at United Airline about whether to fly to Salt Lake City or Omaha due to the big snowstorms in Denver.
Yet he took the time not only to explain the differences, he even demonstrated them in the airport lobby as if he had a soccer ball in his hands.
Growing up in Daly City, just south of San Francisco, John competed in all sports.
“Other kids had all kinds of odd jobs,” Madden recalls, “but dad thought the kids should have fun – work could come later, and I was happy to oblige him by playing sports all the time. the year. “
Madden played in football and basketball at Jefferson High in Daly City. He received several scholarship offers from major colleges, but decided to stay in California. He wanted to teach and train there. Or, again, he could become a lawyer.
He attended the College of San Mateo, where he continued to play both sports, then finished at California Polytechnic.
A knee injury suffered in 1959 at Philadelphia Eagles training camp ended Madden’s professional career before it began.
In 1960 Madden taught physical education at Orchid Junior College and simultaneously coached basketball and football at Hancock JC. Two years later he went to Hancock to teach health and physical education and to be the head football coach.
Prior to joining the Raiders in 1967, John had been a defensive coach at San Diego State (1964-66) and head coach at Hancock (1962-63).
Madden took his nickname “Fox” from Cal Poly. Even after moving, he would return to Poly in the spring to coach the alumni against Roy Hughes University.
“They had a ritual at Cal Poly,” explained John, “when Hughes won every game. At the end of the match, the rooters were shouting, “Roll over, Silver Fox. takes off his hat. When our alumni team started beating their college, the rooters started yelling, “Roll over Red Fox, roll over. “
“The name stuck. I don’t know how they chose it, but when I got to Oakland they called me ‘Fox.’ They still do.
It’s a lot harder to stay on top than it is to get there. Still, Madden says he’s happy to lead a team with a built-in winning attitude.