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John Madden Coached These HBCU Greats

John Madden was a legendary head coach and broadcaster who coached several outstanding HBCU players in the National Football League.

John Madden was a legendary head coach and broadcaster who coached several outstanding HBCU great players in the NFL — two became a Hall of Famers.

John Madden, Willie Brown, and Eldridge Dickey

NFL legendary coach and Hall of Famer John Madden passed at the age of 85 on Monday, Dec. 28. I enjoyed hearing him with Pat Summerall and later Al Michaels commentate on featured football games, championships, and Super Bowls for CBS, FOX, ABC, and NBC. 

He was an icon.

His legendary name has impacted generations of sports fans familiar with his reputation through the popular EA Sports video game "Madden."

Before John Madden became a colossal success in the digital world, he coached the then Oakland Raiders as linebackers coach (1967-68) and head coach (1969-78). He earned PFW AFL Coach of the Year honors in 1969 as he guided the Raiders to the Super Bowl XI championship that season.

Madden was responsible for coaching eighteen of the fifty-five players who played for HBCU schools before playing for the Raiders organization. During his tenure, those men helped John Madden-led teams to a winning record of 103-32-7.


Shell came to the Raiders after being a fantastic professional prospect at Maryland State (now known as the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore).  The longtime Raider was named one of the Top 100 NFL players of all-time.  

He played for the Raiders and Madden at offensive tackle from 1968 to 1982.  Al Davis hired Shell as the first African American head coach in the NFL's modern era.  The two-time Super Bowl champion was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989 and became the 1990 NFL Coach of the Year.

Shell played in eight Pro Bowls and was an AP All-Pro twice in his storied career.

Oakland Raiders (24) Willie Brown (24)


Defensive back Willie Brown attended Grambling State University and played for another coaching legend, Eddie Robinson.  

Willie Brown's Career:

Brown lettered all four years at split end and outside linebacker during his time at Grambling. He was a member of Coach Eddie Robinson’s first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship team in 1960. Although undrafted out of college, he would retire the only NFL player to intercept at least one pass in 16 consecutive seasons. During his 12 years with the Oakland Raiders, he played in three AFL and six AFC championship games, as well as Super Bowls II and XI. He is still considered among the premier cornerbacks of all time. Finishing his career with 54 interceptions, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.

Willie Brown's Career from the Black College Football Hall of Fame


  1. DB Howie Williams (1964 - 1969) - Howard
  2. DT Carleton Oats (1965 - 1972) - Florida A&M
  3. RB Hewritt Dixon (1966 - 1970) - Florida A&M
  4. WR Warren Wells (1967 - 1970) - Texas Southern
  5. DB Willie Brown (1967 - 1978) - Grambling State * Pro Football & Black College Football Hall of Fames
  6. OL Art Shell (1968-1982) - Maryland State *Pro Football Hall of Fame
  7. DT Al Dotson (1968 - 1970) - Grambling State
  8. TE John Eason (1968) - Florida A&M
  9. QB/WR Eldridge Dickey (1968 - 1971) - Tennessee State *Black College Football Hall of Fame
  10. DB Nemiah Wilson (1968 - 1974) - Grambling State
  11. DB George Aktinson (1968- 1977) - Morris Brown
  12. DB Alvin Wyatt (1970) - Bethune-Cookman
  13. DE Harold Rice (1971) - Tennessee State
  14. WR Frank Pitts (1974) - Southern
  15. RB Harold Hart (1975-1975, 1978) - Texas Southern
  16. T Henry Lawrence (1974 - 1986) - Florida A&M
  17. RB Hubert Ginn (1976-1978) - Florida A&M
  18. DE Charles Philyaw (1976 -1979) - Texas Southern


Former Tennessee State legend Eldridge Dickey was drafted by the Raiders in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, Dickey never had a real opportunity to earn the starting job for the Raiders with quarterback Ken Stabler on the roster. 

Later, the team made him a wide receiver. The highly-talented signal-caller "left the game without taking a regular-season snap at quarterback and who never forgave football before he died of a stroke, in 2000, at 54," wrote Michael Lee.

Many fans and experts have considered Dickey as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in HBCU history.

John Madden lauded the skills and abilities of hundreds, perhaps, thousands of players during his days as a coach and broadcaster. The historic coach's passion, knowledge, and quirky sayings for football will be missed by many, but his legacy will continue by simply saying one word — Madden.

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