Famed sportscaster and football coach John Madden will soon be coming home to Pleasanton to stay after his announcement Thursday that he plans to retire.
In a statement made to NBC Sports, Madden said:
"It's time. I'm 73 years old. My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I'm home and, more importantly, when I'm not.
"It's been such a great ride. The NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion, it still is.
"I appreciate all of the people who are and were such an important part of the most enjoyable, most fun anyone could have, that great life with the teams, the players, the coaches, the owners, the League, my broadcasting partners Pat (longtime broadcast partner Pat Summerall) and Al (game analyst Al Michaels), the production people and the fan is still great, it's still fun and that's what makes it hard and that's why it took me a few months to make a decision.
"I still love every part of it, the travel, the practices, the game film, the games, seeing old friends and meeting new people, but I know this is the right time."
It's not the first time Madden has announced his retirement. Madden led the Oakland Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory and retired in 1979, joining CBS later that year. Since then, he has won 16 Emmy Awards and became one of the most recognizable voices in television.
Madden and his wife Virginia are perhaps Pleasanton's most famous couple, due to his coaching of the Oakland Raiders and NFL broadcasting, not to mention his sports talk on KCBS and, of course, his "Madden NFL Football," the top-selling sports video game of all time.
The Maddens have contributed to the community in many ways since making it their home in 1967 and recently put much energy toward preserving an important piece of Pleasanton's past, the Augustine Bernal Adobe, an historic adobe against the foothills that has been a relaxing estate when he returns from grueling trips to the south, Midwest and East Coast during football season.
Madden traveled by bus to these locations because of a fear of flying. With San Francisco and Oakland often not hosting any Sunday night games, he can on the road and away from his family the entire season.
Virginia Madden discovered Pleasanton when they moved to the East Bay from San Diego when her husband began his pro career as a linebacker coach at Oakland. Two years later, he was named head coach at age 33, the youngest coach in what was then the American Football League.
"I got on the freeway in Hayward, went past Castro Valley and couldn't turn around," she recalled. She finally got off at Foothill Road.
"It's warmer over here," she realized.
Back then, their two sons Joe and Mike, now 45 and 43, were their main consideration in buying a home.
"We were looking at two houses," she said, and they chose the neighborhood with the most children. "I noticed tricycles that matched the size of ours."
After Joe and Mike were on their own, John and Virginia lived in Blackhawk for a few years, but when their sons returned to Pleasanton, they knew that was also where they wanted to be.
Now, with five grandchildren, the Maddens have a house to accommodate plenty of family, friends or fundraisers. They have hosted as many as 300 guests to benefit Pacific Vascular Research Foundation, a special cause of Virginia's. Their home also has been on tours to benefit local charities.
Madden told sports reporters that this will be his first season away from football since he was a freshman in high school.
Madden guided the Raiders to an overall record of 103-32-7, leading the team to seven AFC Western Division titles and a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. His .750 winning percentage is the best of any head coach in NFL history.
Before coaching in Oakland, Madden was the defensive coordinator at San Diego State from 1964-66, where the Aztecs were ranked first among small colleges with a 26-4 record. From 1960-64, Madden coached at Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, Calif.
Madden started on both the offensive and defensive lines as a player for California Polytechnic College at San Luis Obispo in 1957 and 1958 and was voted to the All-Conference team. He was also a catcher on the school's baseball team.
Madden earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1959 and a Master of Arts degree in 1961, both from Cal Poly. The Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the 21st round of the 1958 NFL draft, but a knee injury in his rookie season prematurely ended his career.
Madden is the author of several New York Times best-selling books: "Hey, Wait a Minute! (I Wrote a Book!);" "One Knee Equals Two Feet (and Everything Else You Need To Know About Football);" "One Size Doesn't Fit All," and "All Madden," each written with New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson. He also has written a cookbook titled "John Madden's Ultimate Tailgating."
Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.