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The Madden Cruiser

The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project—unveiled every Wednesday from May through July—detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.

CBS once rented Dolly Parton’s tour bus for John Madden, as a solution for his famous fear of flying. Soon after that he got his own vehicle, and The Madden Cruiser became an icon in itself. The custom bus debuted in the 1980s and logged 80,000 miles annually, transporting John Madden to his broadcast gigs across the country.

It had all the essentials: a bed, a stocked refrigerator and a mobile office where Madden broke down film or got his coaching buddies on the horn. Madden already had plenty on his résumé when he became a broadcaster: During 10 seasons as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, he won Super Bowl XI and was the youngest coach to reach 100 wins. But he earned the affection of fans nationwide in his second career, as a color commentator for all four major TV networks, with his coach’s eye and endearing Madden-isms—Boom! Doink!

Madden retired from broadcasting in 2009, after three decades, though his name is entrenched in American pop culture through the best-selling EA Sports video game that bears his name. And the Madden Cruiser remains a fond memory: Quirky and wildly popular, just like the man it carried.

— Jenny Vrentas

In 1990 Peter King joined John Madden for a coast-to-coast trip aboard the Madden Cruiser. Read the full story here.


NFL 95: Read the Series