Bethune-Cookman

John Madden drafted HBCU stars, and they helped him succeed

John Madden passed away at 85, leaving an incredible legacy in the game of football. One of his former players remembers his impact.

Football lost a giant on Tuesday with the death of John Madden.

While many fans may only recognize him from being the face of the popular gaming series and others may remember his truly colorful analysis from his days on television, that’s only part of his story. Madden first came to prominence on the national scene as a head coach.

Madden spent the bulk of his career with the Oakland Raiders, first as a position coach before taking over as head coach for a decade from 1968 through 1978. He led the team to a win in Super Bowl VI and won better than 76.3 percent of his games with the Raiders. Many of Madden’s most memorable players came from HBCUs. 

Alvin “Shine” Wyatt was a standout defensive back and kick returner at Bethune-Cookman College, and the Raiders selected him in the sixth round of the 1970 NFL Draft. Wyatt only spent a year with the Raiders, but left a permanent impression on a coach who would go on to impact many lives at Bethune-Cookman and Edward Waters. 

“Coach John Madden was a great coach and an even better human being!” Wyatt told HBCU Gameday via text. “He was the best of all seven of my professional football coaches! In 1970 I was the only defensive corner drafted by the Oakland Raiders when he took me in the sixth round. Coach Madden was so softly and clearly spoken during my rookie camp and gave me so much attention because the veterans were on strike. Currently, I truly believe that strike was my best friend! So today, December 28th, 2021, I am saddened, in mourning, and full of disbelief to hear the news of the passing of a man that I respected immensely. Coach John Madden, my first NFL coach, was definitely one of many of God’s most precious gifts to me!”

HBCU standouts drafted by John Madden

Other HBCU standouts drafted by the Oakland Raiders under Madden’s watch include:

Eldridge Dickey was a generational talent at quarterback while at Tennessee State University. Madden’s Raiders drafted him in the first round of his first draft as an NFL head coach, making him the first black quarterback drafted in the modern era. However, Dickey would not play quarterback for the Raiders as he was switched to wide receiver while Ken Stabler, drafted in the second round, ended up becoming Oakland’s franchise quarterback.

Art Shell was a star offensive lineman in the CIAA with Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore) when the Raiders picked him in the third round. He would go on to a Hall of Fame career as an offensive tackle and later go on to become the first African-American head coach of the modern era when he took the reins of the franchise in 1989. 

Raymond Chester played in a successful program at Morgan State under head coach Earl Banks in the 1970s before Madden and the Raiders selected him in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft. The tight end was promptly named the NFL’s Rookie of The Year that season, going to three straight Pro Bowls while playing for the Raiders. He would ultimately be traded in 1973 before going on to a stellar career. He’s currently in the Black College Football Hall of Fame and should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Henry Lawrence was so dominant at Florida A&M that Madden and the Raiders picked him in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft. The two-time Pro Bowler would go on to win three Super Bowls in his extensive career.

Raymond Chester played in a successful program at Morgan State under head coach Earl Banks in the 1970s before Madden and the Raiders selected him in the first round of the 1970 NFL Draft. The tight end was promptly named the NFL’s Rookie of The Year that season, going to three straight Pro Bowls while playing for the Raiders. He would ultimately be traded in 1973 before going on to a stellar career. He’s currently in the Black College Football Hall of Fame and should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Raiders drafted also drafted Charles Philyaw from Texas Southern and Gerald Irons of Maryland-Eastern Shore as well as others under John Madden. It should be noted that Grambling State’s Willie Brown started his career with the Houston Oilers and Denver Broncos before landing with the Raiders just before Maddden took over as head football coach.

John Madden was 85 years old at the time of his passing.

John Madden drafted HBCU stars, and they helped him succeed
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