"It always amazed me that when you became a Raider, you addressed Coach Madden as "John." That was always something I pondered and over time, I realized that we were a family and families call each other by their first names. With the news of John passing, many memories have flooded my mind and if you were fortunate to have played for him, I am confident that you also have had those memories as well.
The times he would just want to chat or for whatever reason wanted to "pull your string" or when he wanted you to feel you were the most important member of the team; words of motivation. After the New England playoff game in 1976, he and I sat in the locker room and talked about how great a game it was and how something special was going on that year! Little did I know at that time, but I am now convinced he believed that this was going to be the year we would win the first Raiders' Super Bowl! The past number of years, it had been either Miami or Pittsburgh that tripped us up. However, with New England being our only loss that year, I am convinced that he believed if we would get past New England, we would be in the Super Bowl, and when we got there, we would win.
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. His opening talks always began with, "Today is the first day of our goal of winning the Super Bowl." After those initial meetings, we all knew what and why we were doing the things we did; they were done in mind with winning the Super Bowl.
People used to ask me who our "rivals" were? I would tell them anybody we played; everyone hated the Raiders, until you were lucky enough to become one, then you understood what was so special about playing for the Raiders – a family that took care of each other!
Pray for Virginia, Joe, Michael and their families to be comforted during this time of great loss and sadness.
Monte Johnson (Raiders linebacker 1973-1980)