Virginia Madden, wife of pro football luminary John Madden, will be joined by his sister Judy, sons Mike and his wife Susie, Joe and his wife Wendy as well as grandsons Jesse and Jack to light the Al Davis Memorial Torch prior to kickoff of the Las Vegas Raiders game versus the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. It is most fitting that the Madden family carry out the honor as it was John Madden who was the first to light the Al Davis Memorial Torch on October 18, 2011, as a tribute to Mr. Davis’ legacy and enduring vision that “the fire that burns the brightest in the Raiders’ organization is the will to win.”
Few individuals meant as much to the growth and popularity of professional football as Coach Madden, whose impact on the game both on and off the field was immeasurable. Hired as Head Coach of the Raiders by Al Davis at the age of just 32, Madden coached the Silver and Black for 10 seasons and compiled a remarkable 103-32-7 regular-season record. From 1969-78, the Raiders posted winning records in each season, won seven division titles and qualified for the playoffs eight times.
In 1976, Madden coached the Raiders to a 13-1 record and a 32-14 triumph over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI, marking the franchise’s first World Championship of Professional Football. As professional football grew in popularity and influence, Madden and his Silver and Black teams played a significant role in some of the AFL and NFL’s seminal moments, including the “Sea of Hands,” “Immaculate Reception,” “Holy Roller” and “Ghost to the Post,” among others. Madden cemented his role as a football icon in the broadcast booth, serving as a leading color analyst for all four major television networks — CBS, FOX, ABC and NBC.
His work on Monday Night Football, the inception of the annual All-Madden Team and his role in the Madden NFL series of video games made the Madden name synonymous with pro football. In 2006, Madden was presented for enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame by Al Davis, who opened his speech by calling Madden, “A brilliant coach. A loyal and trusted friend. A Raider.”
The Maddens join representatives from six Southern Nevada Chambers of Commerce (December 26), Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Chief Executive Officer/President Steve Hill (December 5 against Washington), Henderson Mayor Debra March (November 21 versus Cincinnati), David Manica (November 14 against Kansas City), Jim Murren (October 24 against Philadelphia), Tommy White (October 10 versus Chicago), Steve Wynn (September 26 versus Miami), Brian Sandoval (September 13 versus Baltimore) and Dr. Miriam Adelson, widow of Sheldon G. Adelson (August 14 against Seattle), on the list of those who have been extended the privilege to perform the honor in 2021.
Since the tradition began in 2011 in Oakland, many Raiders Alumni, celebrities and fans have had the privilege to light the Torch before each home game. The First Lady of Raider Nation Mrs. Carol Davis was the first to light the Al Davis Memorial Torch honoring her late husband in Las Vegas, handling the prestigious honor prior to the Raiders’ inaugural contest at Allegiant Stadium on September 21, 2020.
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