‘He made coaching cool’: Local high school coach, former NFL player react to the unexpected death of John Madden


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Legendary football coach and broadcaster John Madden died unexpectedly Tuesday at the age of 85. The beloved hall of famer touched lives across the nation through his booming commentary and gamers playing EA Sports’ Madden.

FILE – Former Oakland Raiders head coach John Madden speaks about former quarterback Ken Stabler, pictured at rear, at a ceremony honoring Stabler during halftime of an NFL football game between the Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals in Oakland, Calif., on Sept. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Local coaches and players alike felt the loss.

“It was just a surprise this morning, when I got up, to see that news,” said former Matoaca Warriors coach Pat Manuel. “If you are a football coach or love the game, you are saddened by the news, for sure.”

Coach Pat Manuel. (Photo: Tyler Thrasher/WRIC)

Manuel coached the Warriors for 23 years before retiring. He said Madden inspired his coaching style in a lot of ways.

John Madden made coaching cool,” he said. “Prior to him, my images of a coach were Tom Landry, Vince Lombardy — very stoic. John was a bigger than life personality. He was very animated on the sidelines.”

“He made it cool to be a football coach. Most of the coaches were suit and tie. That wasn’t me. John had a polo shirt on, half untucked and running up and down the sidelines. It allowed a lot of coaches to be able to be themselves and make the job fit them rather than fit the image.”

Ken Oxendine played at Thomas Dale before a Virginia Tech Hokies college career and did a stint with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

“Madden really allowed the charisma of a coach to come out and be what it has become,” he said. “You could tell he was a player’s coach and he was an individual that really liked to do the things that were going to allow you to be yourself but also foster your own accomplishments and your skillset.”

Ken Oxendine playing for the Falcons. (Photo provided by Oxendine)

Oxendine made a trip the Super Bowl with the Falcons in 1999 and even featured as a playable athlete in Madden, the game named after the legend.

“I think that is really the next part; His legacy that he left for coaches and gamers,” he said.

“If you remember the Oakland Raider teams, they were the island of misfit toys,” Manuel added. “He took a group of guys and made them into a great team. If he can do that, why can’t I do that and make it successful?”

InOakland Raiders coach John Madden holds the ball which was used to score the winning touchdown against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL football playoff game in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo, File)

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