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Bill Belichick On Passing Of John Madden: 'A Sad Day For All Football Fans'

BOSTON (CBS) -- The football world is mourning the loss of a giant after John Madden passed away at the age of 85 on Tuesday. For Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, no one will ever impact the game as much as Madden did over his many different careers in football.

Belichick's Wednesday Zoom session with reporters was nearly all about Madden and his legacy in the NFL.

"Our condolences to the Madden family. It's a huge loss for the NFL and professional football," Belichick began on Wednesday. "John was just a tremendous person to be around. I think we all set out to try to have a good professional career, and John had about five of them."

Belichick touched on Madden's impact in coaching, how he fought for equality and player safety, and how his broadcasting career and video game franchise grew the popularity of the game for generations.

"He set the standard for coaching in his era with the best record, the best team. The Raiders had a style of play that was very captivating and certainly did a lot for the league and the competitiveness of the league," Belichick continued. "He was a great champion for minorities and minority scouting and some of the great Raiders players from the smaller Black colleges that they brought into the organization. He moved to broadcasting and certainly increased the popularity of the game singlehandedly quite a bit."

Belichick said that Madden's love and enthusiasm was obvious whenever he was in the booth, and he was able to explain just about everything about football in a "humorous and educational" way.

"Everybody who liked football enjoyed John's commentary, and a lot of the people who didn't care about football found John entertaining and watched because of him," said Belichick. "He brought a perspective of the game that was very unique.

"He was loved by all and I got the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with John," Belichick added.

Belichick said he had too many interactions and experiences with Madden to count, going all the way back to his days as an assistant in Denver in 1978 when he was on the sideline across from Madden. They'd catch up throughout the years when Belichick was with the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Patriots, including a handful of times on Madden's famous bus before Monday Night Football broadcasts. Most recently, they were part of the panel that put together the NFL's Top 100 list, where they watched games from the 20s, 30s and 40s.

"He was a very well rounded person who had a great love of life, love of football – a love for the history of football. He was always an enjoyable person to be around and converse with," he said. "Unless you were standing across the field."

While it has been a while since Belichick played the Madden video games, where he found himself on the losing end to his kids, he sees the game's influence on today's players.

"The Madden game was one of the most popular things going and most of the current players in this generation know Madden though that. The popularity of football through the Madden game is pretty outstanding as well," said Belichick. "He put it all together. He was a great person with multiple great careers, and a great influence on the game of professional football."

From the sideline to the broadcast booth to countless changes he made in the game itself, Madden put a fingerprint on professional football that will never fade.

"It's unique in the different ways he was part of the game, from coaching to the Madden games to broadcasting to rule changes for the safety of players, increasing the diversity in hiring. He touched a lot of areas and all of them start with the betterment of the game," said Belichick. "What a man. What a career."

Belichick said that Madden was always a great listener when discussing football and always open to new ideas. But it was his insight into the game that Belichick loved listening to the most.

"I always wanted to hear what he had to say and he always had a great perspective," said Belichick. "You could always see where he was coming from and it was always for the better of the game in an unselfish way. His motivation was for the game, for the fans and the entertainment and the safety, all the things that were right about football. That is what he stood for."

"He was great to work with and just loved football. Loved football, and every aspect of it," said Belichick. "It's a sad day for all football fans."

Tune in to Sunday's Patriots-Jaguars game on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1pm, and after the game stick around for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!

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