As the football world mourns the passing of the great John Madden, many around the sports world have shared never-before-heard stories of their time with the man who left his mark on the game.
Read through for some of the best anecdotes and memories from those who knew and worked with Madden.
NBC Sports' Al Michaels, Madden's former broadcast booth partner:
"So many things about John, but one of the things I really would love to point out is the fact that he made everybody around him better. He was excited and excitable, and his enthusiasm for the game and for his work was infectious. It rubbed off on all of us. John was excited to come to work. He brought with him this wonderful attitude and feeling and love of the game, and it translated to everybody else. When they talk about somebody makes the other people around him better, that was John Madden."
NFL Network's Steve Mariucci:
"He didn't really know he wanted to go into the broadcast booth. His agent said, 'Hey, try it. Give you five games and just try it, see if you like it.' Well, he liked it and he was great at it. That was a whole new career with a whole new generation that got to know who John Madden was, but it wasn't from the field, it was in the booth."
Hall of Famer Tom Flores, Madden's former assistant coach:
"John was a very demonstrative coach. Very emotional, passionate in practice, meetings and obviously, during the games. That's what people saw on Sunday's afternoons."
Former sportscaster Vin Scully:
"I had worked with good men on baseball games, especially Joe Gargiola, but when I worked with John Madden, it was as if he was summoning everybody. I had the feeling that the whole world was going to tune in to hear John and that I had best be on my best behavior. I think just his presence, sitting there alongside of me shoulder to shoulder, I think his presence made me a little bit better because I kept saying, 'My gosh, he's so talented. His intelligence on football is brilliant and yet it comes out so easily.' I'm sure that people everywhere related to him immediately."
"We were driving on a beautiful late October, a lovely, lovely day. Maybe 68 degrees, bright sun, maybe 3 o'clock in the afternoon and its just the kind of day that you're driving through Nebraska and you look around and you say, 'Man, America's utterly beautiful.' And you think, 'What's in Nebraska?' But over on the right side of the bus, there was a huge meadow, a huge field of bright red wildflowers. And Madden said to the bus driver, 'Willie, pull over.' Madden goes to a drawer in the front of his bus and he picks out a book called Wildflowers Across America. He picks out this book and he gets off the bus and he walks up there and he's flipping through the pages, maybe takes 10 minutes, but he finds the flowers that he's looking at right there. For that moment in time, he considered that a great moment. … There's a cliché in life, 'Make sure you stop and smell the flowers.' John Madden, in his life, stopped and smelled the flowers."
Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon:
"John was just one of those guys who loved football. He called the Hall of Fame 'Football Heaven.' He loved being there, being around all that history, being around all those former players, current players, former coaches, current coaches – he just loved that whole atmosphere. He loved and enjoyed talking football."
"John was a gifted coach, motivator and communicator. He always wrote on the whiteboard the first day of training camp: "K.I.S.S." That was not meant to be critical or demeaning, he really believed that football was a simple game of blocking, tackling, running, throwing and catching the ball. If you did those things well each Sunday, you would win, with one goal in mind, and that one goal every year was to win the Super Bowl."
Raiders play-by-play voice Brent Musburger:
"John's ability – and it goes through everything I ever knew about John – his ability to deal with humans on their level and his level was outstanding. That's what made him a great coach, because he was a great leader. … He knew who he had, he knew how to use his personalities and that's what made John Madden a great, great coach."
Broadcaster and former Raiders linebacker Matt Millen:
"John was a regular guy. That's what I loved about him. John, there were no pretenses. He was himself, he was always himself, never pretended to be anything else. … I just thought the world of him."
NFL Network's Andrea Kremer:
"I'd been in the business for 20-plus years, but let me tell you, the idea of working with John Madden, Al Michaels … that was pretty significant. And then of course, being on the bus with John, it was like being on tour with a rock group. That's what it was like. When you walked into a hotel, because Madden was so much larger than life, it was literally what the sports version of the Beatles was like."
Former quarterback and NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner:
"We would go into different production meetings and he would ask me about different mannerisms and different nuances that I had in the game. I would look back at him and go, 'What are you talking about? I don't even know what you're talking about.' But he would watch so much film and he would come up and go, 'Hey, when you go under center, you always tap the center on the butt on the left-hand side, and then you kind of rub your right hand or your left hand on your leg, why do you do that?' and I'm thinking, 'I don't even know.' I didn't even know that I did that. But that to me is what I appreciated about John Madden. He had unbelievable presence and character, but he put so much into this game. He had such great passion for the game, and even as a player, you could get that and understand that every time that you were with him."