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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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John Madden was depicted in the 1967 yearbook Del Sudoeste during his time as an assistant coach. John Madden was depicted in the 1967 yearbook Del Sudoeste during his time as an assistant coach.

Madden 66: All About the NFL Great's Time at San Diego State

His mighty defense contributed to an undefeated Aztecs season and a bowl win.
By Peggy Pico and Jeff Ristine

Before his NFL coaching, Super Bowl victory, broadcast career and ultra-popular video game series, John Madden was an Aztecs football coach and assistant professor at San Diego State College.

Working under famed head coach and lifetime friend Don Coryell, Madden contributed to the Aztecs' first undefeated season and a No. 1 national ranking, and taught in the physical education department for two years before his skills led him into the National Football League..

Madden, who died December 28 at age 85, was defensive coordinator and assistant coach for the football team from 1964-66, a time when home games were played both on campus in the Aztec Bowl and at Balboa Stadium. In a two-page yearbook spread from the era, Madden — wearing a sport coat, white shirt and skinny tie — is among 18 men comprising the Athletic Department.

The Aztec football team was undefeated and ranked the number one “small college” football team in the U.S. in the final AP-UPI poll of 1966, a season marked by a 28-7 victory over Montana State in the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento. During that time, Madden was also an assistant professor in what was then the Physical Education department, where he continued to teach until the Oakland Raiders hired him as an assistant coach in 1967.

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of John Madden, a man who meant so much to the sport of football,” said JD Wicker, San Diego State University athletic director. “Coach Madden is an important part of the legacy of our great program as he spent time on the Mesa working with Don Coryell before moving on to the Oakland Raiders. Our thoughts are with his family and the entire football community as we mourn his passing, yet celebrate the accomplishments of one of the greatest of all time.”

Madden himself was a product of the California State University system with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from California Polytechnic State College, San Luis Obispo.

He returned to the SDSU campus in July 2010 to deliver a eulogy at a memorial service for Coryell at Viejas Arena, where he lamented the fact that the former San Diego Chargers coach had not been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

A moment of silence for Madden was held at stadiums across the NFL on Sunday in his honor.  

Standing at 6’4” with a personality just as big, Madden began his NFL career five decades ago in 1958 as a rookie player for the Philadelphia Eagles — when a knee injury permanently sidelined his pro-athlete career. He quickly pivoted to coaching, first at Allan Hancock College, then in San Diego.
At age 32, Madden became one of the youngest head coaches in the NFL, leading the Raiders to a decade of victories, including their first Super Bowl win in 1977. The following year Madden retired from coaching and immediately began an iconic 30-year career as a popular and beloved football broadcaster and commentator.
At his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, Madden offered this advice: “Coaching isn’t work. It’s more than a job. It’s a way of life…no one should go into coaching unless he couldn’t live without it…Football is what I am.”
Madden’s successful career earned him 16 Emmy awards, multiple sportscaster awards, and a popular NFL video game franchise that carries his name. He wrote several best-selling books and starred in many commercials.

Madden lived with his wife Virginia and remained close to his family until his death, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who said: “We all know him as the Hall of Fame coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster who worked for every major network, but more than anything, he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.”