On Monday evening, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid became one of eight NFL ambassadors to speak at John Madden’s public memorial. Madden passed away at the age of 85 in late December.
Reid — along with his friend and former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci — joined NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz before the ceremony began.
Tonight we celebrate the amazing life and career of John Madden. @OmarDRuiz caught up with @SteveMariucci and Andy Reid ahead of the memorial ❤️— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 15, 2022
: John Madden Memorial: Tonight - 8:30pm ET on NFL Network pic.twitter.com/Vh7NdppQzU
“He’s been great at a couple different things,” Reid told Ruiz, speaking in reverence about Madden. “Very seldom are you great at two professions, so he was a great football coach and also great at this broadcasting thing. John Madden added the video game to that, so I mean, he was great. Everything he touched ended up working, and it was funny how he expanded the horizons and expanded his own thoughts and where he wanted to go with the game. It’s affected all these generations. I mean, it’s incredible how he’s touched people.”
Over the weeks since Madden’s passing, it’s been revealed that Reid and Madden spoke on the phone two to three times a week about topics ranging from their personal lives to purely how to better the game of football.
Ruiz noted that those close to Madden said that his conversations with Reid were always a highlight for the late great former head coach and broadcaster.
“Well, I’d reciprocate that,” said Reid. “He was phenomenal. The history. I mean, I could just sit there and listen to the history of him and the National Football League. It seemed like every time we talked, something new came up that I hadn’t heard before, and I love that part of it. Great person.”
If Reid’s teams and players are his primary focus, then the good of the game of football and the NFL would be a close second. Especially in the offseason, this is easy to see; when asked, Reid is happy to weigh in on league-wide topics of importance.
As much a historian as he is one of the game’s active leaders, Reid consistently shows great appreciation when asked about the Pro Football Hall of Fame, often recommending peers such as Mike Holmgren when Canton comes up.
In his retelling of the day he met Madden, Reid disclosed that it was Madden who taught him that as a coach, he played a critical role in improving and nourishing the sport altogether.
An emotional Andy Reid speaking at John Madden's Celebration of Life: "He taught me to appreciate every day... Taught me that coaches weren't the hamburger flippers on the NFL. That we had a voice, and if properly presented, people would listen." #ChiefsKingdom @KCTV5 pic.twitter.com/M3VprNo2FR— Jared Koller (@JaredKCTV5) February 15, 2022
“He took me in like one of his own,” said Reid of their first meeting. “He said, ‘You played offensive line?’ I said, ‘I did.’ He said, ‘You’re in.’ I was in the club officially. Coach got me to appreciate every day, every game, every play of every game. He taught me not to back off what I knew would be the best for the National Football League. He taught me that coaches weren’t the hamburger flippers of the National Football League — that we had a voice, and if properly presented, people would listen. I got to work hand in hand with a great coach, John Madden, and it was an honor. His relentless trust in his own common sense — suggestions to change the game for its betterment probably drove commissioner Goodell crazy, but it was awesome to watch his beautiful mind formulate each want. He taught me to never lose my childish love for life.”
All seven speeches — including Reid’s full speech — are available (via ABC7 News) here. The proceeds from the memorial went to Madden Charities for the benefit of the John Madden Foundation to provide educational opportunities for the youth of Oakland.