The younger set know him from the illustrious announcing career, the video games that sometimes-get-better-from-year-to-year, the Madden Cruiser and the Tinactin ads. The SF Chronicle’s Ira Miller, however, would prefer to go back a bit further with John Madden (shown above, right, with Kenny Stabler).
John Madden was a coach, one of the best ever. It was so long ago that many people might not even remember it, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame will have a chance to correct that oversight Saturday when its 39-man board of selectors chooses its next class of enshrinees.
In 10 years as the Raiders’ coach, he won a Super Bowl, took his team to the conference championship game seven times, compiled the second-best winning percentage (behind Vince Lombardi) in NFL history and had a winning record against each of the 10 Hall of Fame coaches with whom he competed.
It’s somewhat a mystery why Madden was not voted to the Hall of Fame long ago, but he had to overcome the perception he would coach again after retiring at age 42, plus what some former voters say is the committee’s built-in bias against players and coaches who become television icons.
Then there’s this. Outsiders long have believed that the Raiders are so much a product of Al Davis that the coach is insignificant, certainly a perception that most recent coaches, except for Jon Gruden, have done nothing to change.
Of course, that doesn’t explain, if Davis were pulling the strings, why he managed to pull them so much better when Madden was his coach than at any other time. Madden’s regular-season winning percentage with the Raiders was .759. Under eight coaches since he retired, the team’s winning percentage is .533.