Reimagined Madden Cruiser goals to broaden legacy of iconic NFL coach, broadcaster

Reimagined Madden Cruiser goals to broaden legacy of iconic NFL coach, broadcaster

Editor’s word: All through the month of November, we bear in mind among the greatest NFL, faculty soccer and sports activities tradition events across the Thanksgiving vacation in Thanksgiving Sports activities Moments.

For 3 a long time, former Raiders coach and NFL broadcaster John Madden traveled throughout the nation in one in every of 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.

Not too long ago, a sixth Cruiser joined the fleet.

This reimagined Madden Cruiser was constructed lately by EA Sports activities — producers of the favored Madden NFL online game — to journey to pick 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 necessary to the historical past of the league,” stated J.J. Johnson, one in every of Madden’s authentic bus drivers. “Followers would swarm us at each cease, it meant a lot to have Coach touring across the nation.

“Everyone was celebrating his love of soccer in addition to their very own, and the reimagined Cruiser helps that nostalgia proceed.”


The reimagined Madden Cruiser features a cellphone outdoors for folks to go away a message arguing for a scores enhance for his or her favourite participant on the Madden NFL online game. (Courtesy of EA Sports activities)

The NFL can be honoring and commemorating the late Madden with the second annual “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration” on Thursday. Fox, CBS and NBC will have a good time Madden’s contributions to the sport, on the sector and within the broadcast sales space, with tributes all through every sport on Thanksgiving Day.

Madden as soon as stated, “There’s no place that I’d fairly be right this moment on Thanksgiving than proper right here, proper now, at a soccer sport.”

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And that meant being on his bus earlier than and after the sport. Or on the numerous 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 liked soccer greater than Coach,” Goodell stated in August in a recorded interview with EA Sports activities. “I believe his favourite a part of the bus was to cease at completely different locations and meet completely different folks. He needed to know what they did and what their hobbies had been. He cared deeply about folks.

“Folks liked seeing the bus pull up. It was like Elvis exhibiting 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 far-off from the stadium and have Madden escorted into the stadium in a police automobile.

“One sport, 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 additional safety to assist get him into the stadium. It was superior how many individuals had been there.”

EA Sports activities thought followers would get pleasure from seeing the bus pull up once more. It’s made stops at three video games up to now and might 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 keep on his legacy and this reimagined Cruiser appeared like the proper means to do this,” stated Sarah McLaughlin, the director of brand name advertising 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 concept, and it was a cool solution 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 recent, completely different model that might 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 authentic buses.

“Dad all the time traded them in, and the primary one was then used as a cell residence by one purchaser earlier than he handed away,” Madden stated. “His spouse referred to as, and Dad obtained nostalgic and acquired 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 preserving that one. You possibly can afford to only 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 bear in mind if it was Baltimore or Pittsburgh, however had been getting hungry and we had run out of junk meals,” Goodell stated. “We had been on our means in, it was late and I used to be speaking to another person, then you possibly 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.”


Roger Goodell, left, and John Madden share amusing aboard the Madden Cruiser when the commissioner joined the teaching and broadcasting legend for a coaching camp tour in 2010. (David Goldman / Related Press)

Goodell liked his go to on the brand new Cruiser, and it introduced again reminiscences 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 screens on the facet of the bus for followers to stroll up and play Madden NFL, together with a cellphone sales space for followers to go away a voicemail to make their case for a scores enhance for his or her favourite participant.

And there’s a mural of Madden on the again facet.

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Contained in the bus, there’s a museum-style timeline of Madden’s profession from faculty 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 dwell broadcasting.

“Youthful generations that won’t have grown up with him love the memorabilia that’s on the bus,” McLaughlin stated. “Youngsters had been excited to play the video games and in addition be taught all the pieces that he dropped at the sport.”


Contained in the reimagined Madden Cruiser, followers can find out about John Madden’s profession that started as a school coach. (Courtesy of EA Sports activities)

Mike Madden thinks younger players might be shocked by what number of wins — 112 — Madden stacked up as a coach.

“The online game was nice and his broadcasting profession was unbelievable, 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 wish to remind folks that 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 positive that his previous buddy would love the brand new bus.

“I believe he could be very proud of it, that this can be a cool solution to have a good time his life,” Goodell stated. “The EA sport meant so much to him and the followers meant so much 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.”


This sequence is a part of a partnership with Accenture.

The Athletic maintains full editorial independence. Companions don’t have any management over or enter into the reporting or modifying course of and don’t overview tales earlier than publication.

(Prime illustration: Sean Reilly / The Athletic; picture of John Madden: Focus On Sport / Getty Photos; different high photographs courtesy of EA Sports activities)

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