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Lunchbreak: Grant, Randle & Culpepper Among Tributes to John Madden


The NFL lost a legend with the passing of John Madden, which was announced by the league Tuesday evening.

Madden, 85, was a beloved and respected figure after a career that spanned four-plus decades as a coach and broadcaster.

Hall of Fame Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant paid tribute to Madden in the following statement:

"Coaches come in a variety of forms. John really, really liked football. For him it wasn't about the attention. He would sit down and talk football to anyone. That made him a great coach and a great commentator after his coaching career was over. John was a great ambassador for the game of football and will be missed."

Madden intertwined with the Vikings in numerous ways over the years.


A Hall of Fame coach, Madden and the Raiders topped Grant and the Vikings in Super Bowl XI. That was Minnesota's most-recent Super Bowl appearance.

Madden later transitioned to the broadcast booth, where his voice filled the airwaves for years as one of the most recognizable football broadcasters of all time.

He became traditional with calling games on Thanksgiving Day, which included Randy Moss' three-touchdown performance (on three catches) against Dallas in 1998, and presenting the "Turducken" to top performers.

Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf and Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf said they appreciated the way Madden expanded the popularity of the sport through his enthusiasm for it.

"My family was entertained and informed by John Madden over the years, just as NFL fans across the globe have been," Mark Wilf said. "John helped broaden the NFL fan base as he made fans feel like they were part of the action."

Zygi Wilf added: "We are grateful for Coach Madden's unique ability to celebrate the great players and coaches who built the NFL into what it is today. Coach Madden will be greatly missed by the NFL and its fans."

Younger generations were introduced to Madden through the "Madden NFL" video game franchise, which first debuted in 1988 as "John Madden Football" and is still among the most popular games.

John Randle, whose boisterous personality and Hall of Fame play, helped grow the game admired Madden's multifaceted way of connecting people to football.

"In so many ways, John Madden introduced football to a whole new group of fans who had never played it or been associated with it because of his unique style on the air and through the video games," Randle said. "There is a generation of football fans now who don't know he was a great coach, but he broadened the appeal of the game. He was like going from black-and-white TV to color TV, that's what he did for football.

"Personally, I was able to get to know him during events in Canton," Randle continued. "I was at a table with him, Fred Biletnikoff, Franco Harris and Mean Joe Greene. The conversation turned to the Immaculate Reception, and suddenly it was like they were back in that game. As a young guy, I was just sitting there in awe, reliving a magical moment in NFL history."

Each reunion with Madden was special to Randle.

"As a player, when you got to see the Madden bus pull up at your facility, you knew it was special. Then, when you get invited to come on it, you know you're part of something unique, something so many people wish they could do. I look back at my All-Madden Team sweatshirts and jackets and think about how lucky I was to be able to meet him and be a part of those moments in history."

Former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper said he was "super honored" to be featured on the cover of "Madden NFL 2002."

"John Madden is an icon in the football world," Culpepper said. "His in-game commentary was second to none. He will be missed."

Current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on Wednesday described the way Madden became synonymous with football.

"I heard someone say that you might know him as a coach, you might know him as a broadcaster, you might know him as the name of the video game, but there's very few football people who don't know him for one of those three," Cousins said. "It's pretty amazing, the year he had when you think about the Super Bowl titles, which we're all chasing, and to follow that up with a 30-year broadcasting career where he was really the guy and had so many iconic moments calling Super Bowls and calling big games with Pat Summerall, and then to have the video game as well, which the legacy there will long outlive other memories.

"It's pretty iconic," Cousins added. "I don't know if something like that will ever be done in terms of being a part of football in so many unique ways."

Besides Grant, Randle Culpepper and Cousins, here are others who paid tribute to Madden after his passing:

Former Vikings running back Chuck Foreman

Former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre

Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning

Legendary broadcaster Vin Scully

Richard Deitsch, who covers sports media for The Athletic, also posted that FOX will re-air the 'ALL MADDEN' documentary at 7 p.m. (CT) Thursday.

Madden, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, went 103-32-7 in 10 regular seasons as the head coach of the Raiders. That win percentage of .759 is the greatest of all-time (minimum 100 games). Madden's Oakland teams were 9-7 in postseason contests.

Darrisaw among PFF's top-graded 1st-round rookies

Christian Darrisaw was the 23rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he's performed like a players selected much higher in the first round.

Analytics website Pro Football Focus recently released its weekly analysis of where all 32 first-round rookies stand, and the Vikings left tackle is trending in the right direction.

PFF noted that Darrisaw's season grade of 73.0 (out of 100) is the 11th-best mark of all first-round picks. And his Week 16 grade of 76.1 was the sixth-best grade out of all 32 players in that category.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 5, 2022.

Sam Monson of PFF wrote:

Darrisaw was the Vikings best-graded pass-blocker this week against the Los Angeles Rams at home, in part because Aaron Donald ensured that none of the interior trio would succeed. Darrisaw recorded an 80.0 PFF pass-blocking grade, allowing just one hurry across 44 pass-blocking snaps. Darrisaw is on a run of four straight games with a 71.0-plus PFF grade and seems to be improving as the season wears on after a delayed start due to injury.

Here are the season PFF grades for Minnesota's other offensive linemen who have made at least five starts in 2021:

Brian O'Neill (15 starts): 71.4

Ezra Cleveland (15 starts): 68.6

Olisaemeka Udoh (14 starts): 53.2

Garrett Bradbury (11 starts): 60.6

Mason Cole (seven starts): 69.5

Rashod Hill (five starts): 42.2

The Vikings initially had the 14th overall pick in the 2021 draft, but traded down to No. 23 with the Jets to get two additional third-round picks.