Reimagined Madden Cruiser goals to increase legacy of iconic NFL coach, broadcaster
For 3 a long time, former Raiders coach and NFL broadcaster John Madden traveled throughout the nation in one among his famed Madden Cruisers.
Madden used 5 Cruisers through the years. The primary one parked for good within the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame in 2018, the Madden household nonetheless owns two and the whereabouts of two others Madden traded in when he upgraded are unknown.
Just lately, a sixth Cruiser joined the fleet.
This reimagined Madden Cruiser was constructed not too long ago by EA Sports activities — producers of the favored Madden NFL online game — to journey to pick out NFL video games and the Tremendous Bowl so followers might pay homage to the late Corridor of Famer’s spirit and legacy.
“He was so vital to the historical past of the league,” stated J.J. Johnson, one among Madden’s unique bus drivers. “Followers would swarm us at each cease, it meant a lot to have Coach touring across the nation.
“All people was celebrating his love of soccer in addition to their very own, and the reimagined Cruiser helps that nostalgia proceed.”
The NFL can also be honoring and commemorating the late Madden with the second annual “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration” on Thursday. Fox, CBS and NBC will rejoice Madden’s contributions to the sport, on the sector and within the broadcast sales space, with tributes all through every recreation on Thanksgiving Day.
Madden as soon as stated, “There’s no place that I’d quite be right this moment on Thanksgiving than proper right here, proper now, at a soccer recreation.”
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And that meant being on his bus earlier than and after the sport. Or on the various stops alongside the way in which, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell skilled when he joined Madden on the bus in 2010 for a tour of NFL coaching camps.
“No person cherished soccer greater than Coach,” Goodell stated in August in a recorded interview with EA Sports activities. “I feel his favourite a part of the bus was to cease at totally different locations and meet totally different folks. He needed to know what they did and what their hobbies have been. He cared deeply about folks.
“Folks cherished seeing the bus pull up. It was like Elvis displaying up. Folks went loopy.”
Throughout Madden’s final season as a broadcaster in 2008, there have been so many followers that Johnson needed to park the bus distant from the stadium and have Madden escorted into the stadium in a police automobile.
“One recreation, the Cruiser was making its first look in Buffalo in 15 to twenty years,” Johnson stated. “The followers simply needed to see Coach, and we needed to get further safety to assist get him into the stadium. It was superior how many individuals have been there.”
EA Sports activities thought followers would get pleasure from seeing the bus pull up once more. It’s made stops at six video games up to now and will likely be parked on the Tremendous Bowl in Las Vegas.
“With Coach Madden’s passing in 2021, we needed to do one thing particular to commemorate and stick with it his legacy and this reimagined Cruiser appeared like the right method to try this,” stated Sarah McLaughlin, the director of name advertising and marketing for Madden. “The wealthy historical past of the Cruiser was so synonymous with who he was.”
Madden’s household was concerned within the brainstorming and planning of the brand new bus.
“EA got here to us with the thought, and it was a cool method to hold his legacy alive,” stated Mike Madden, John’s son. “The primary bus is within the Corridor of Fame, and this one is a more moderen, totally different model that will likely be going across the nation that extra followers can get pleasure from.”
Madden stated he and his mother, Virginia, nonetheless have two of the 5 unique buses.
“Dad all the time traded them in, and the primary one was then used as a cellular residence by one purchaser earlier than he handed away,” Madden stated. “His spouse referred to as, and Dad received nostalgic and purchased the unique bus again. I don’t what occurred to (Nos.) 2 and three, after which the fourth one … he needed the trade-in worth once more, however my mother stated, ‘Nope, we’re maintaining that one. You possibly can afford to simply purchase a brand new bus.’
“So we nonetheless have 4 and 5. Mother considers 4 hers.”
The household nonetheless makes use of the buses for annual golf journeys to Scottsdale, Ariz., and different gatherings that pop up.
“J.J. is all the time calling me with concepts for extra bus journeys,” Mike Madden stated.
Goodell hopes the brand new bus makes a cease at a Chili’s restaurant.
“I can’t keep in mind if it was Baltimore or Pittsburgh, however have been getting hungry and we had run out of junk meals,” Goodell stated. “We have been on our method in, it was late and I used to be speaking to another person, then you can hear his voice: ‘What?! You don’t have chili? Chili’s doesn’t have chili?!’ And he went on for like 10 minutes. After which one other three hours on the bus.
“He had enjoyable with all the pieces.”
Goodell cherished his go to on the brand new Cruiser, and it introduced again recollections of his time with Madden on the bus 15 years in the past.
“We hit 5 coaching camps in 5 days, and all I did was sit within the entrance with him the entire time,” Goodell stated. “He simply needed to speak soccer and that was a lot enjoyable for me. And when he wasn’t speaking, he was watching video games for breaking down movie. Nobody labored tougher than him. … That is fairly cool.”
There are three exterior gaming stations and displays on the aspect of the bus for followers to stroll up and play Madden NFL, together with a cellphone sales space for followers to depart a voicemail to make their case for a scores increase for his or her favourite participant.
And there’s a mural of Madden on the again aspect.
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Contained in the bus, there’s a museum-style timeline of Madden’s profession from school coach to NFL coach to broadcaster. There’s a glass show of all of the online game covers from through the years, together with two gaming stations. Within the again, there’s a manufacturing studio able to stay broadcasting.
“Youthful generations that will not have grown up with him love the memorabilia that’s on the bus,” McLaughlin stated. “Youngsters have been excited to play the video games and likewise be taught all the pieces that he dropped at the sport.”
Mike Madden thinks younger avid gamers will likely be stunned by what number of wins — 112 — Madden stacked up as a coach.
“The online game was nice and his broadcasting profession was incredible, however he nonetheless has one of the best profitable share of any coach in NFL historical past,” Mike Madden stated. “The sport and the broadcasting and all of the turducken and all that stuff is nice, however I’d need to remind people who he was one of many best coaches that ever coached.”
Madden was solely 32 when he was employed because the Raiders’ coach in 1969, and his .759 profitable share throughout the common season does rank highest amongst coaches with 100 profession victories.
Goodell is sort of certain that his outdated pal would love the brand new bus.
“I feel he could be very proud of it, that this can be a cool method to rejoice his life,” Goodell stated. “The EA recreation meant loads to him and the followers meant loads to him and he all the time needed to be actual and genuine. My guess is he’ll be watching followers having fun with his bus from upstairs.”
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(Prime illustration: Sean Reilly / The Athletic; photograph of John Madden: Focus On Sport / Getty Photographs; different prime photographs courtesy of EA Sports activities)