Thanksgiving is finally here, and with it, comes a comprehensive list of three NFL football games. However, this year, things will be a little different as the NFL has decided to honor the life and career of the legendary John Madden.
Madden passed away on December 28, 2021, and while he was pivotal to the NFL for several reasons, arguably his greatest contributions were to the league’s Thanksgiving celebration.
When the legendary coach and broadcaster passed away, questions about how the NFL would honor him were the most important thing. Today, the NFL has opted to eliminate all shutdowns, and Madden will be displayed in a number of ways.
“No one cared more or contributed more to our game than John Madden,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Honoring his memory and impact on the NFL is important, and Thanksgiving brings to life all the elements important to John: family, football, food and fun.”
NFL to honor John Madden on Thanksgiving
Madden will always be remembered as one of the winningest coaches in NFL history, accomplishing more in 10 years with the Raiders than many in his entire life. And although he retired at the young age of 42, his contributions to the league continued after that.
Just a few years after retiring as a coach, Madden entered the broadcast booth and became the synonymous voice of football. He called 11 different Super Bowls and broadcast for 28 consecutive years. But it was specifically during the NFL’s Thanksgiving celebrations that Madden gave us memories that have endured for decades.
Whether it’s the six-legged turducken or his funny jokes with NFL legends like Emmitt Smith and Randy Moss, Madden championed this American holiday.
“He wasn’t the owner of Thanksgiving, but he was a little close, right?” said Richard Zontz, senior NFL producer for FOX Sports. “He just took the vacation and hugged it and made it his own.”
So how will the NFL honor the legacy Madden created? Even before the celebrations begin and the first kick-off takes place, Madden will already be present thanks to the day being officially known as the “John Madden Thanksgiving Celebration.” This official title will be displayed on the three networks that broadcast today’s schedule: CBS, FOX and NBC.
In addition, when each game has come to an end, the networks will choose the “Madden Player of the Game”. That player, who will be considered the Most Valuable Player of their respective contests, will receive a $10,000 donation in their name to a youth or high school program of their choice through the NFL Foundation. The NFL has said the event is to honor Madden’s passion for youth soccer.
Before each game, NFL fans will also hear a recording of Madden talking about Thanksgiving and what his connection to the world of football means.
Madden Special Logo
Not only will the ceremonies around Thanksgiving carry Madden’s name, but a special logo has also been created that will be featured on NFL fields and on players’ helmets. This sticker will be different than the one the Las Vegas Raiders have been currently wearing during the season.
Instead of just his initials, we’ll see the iconic image of Madden taken off the field with his first in the air. This image was taken after the Raiders won Super Bowl XI over the Minnesota Vikings. It was one of eight playoff appearances Madden led the Raiders to between 1969 and 1978.