There are a lot of things people think of when they hear the name “John Madden”. His iconic broadcast voice, his Super Bowl championship, the video game series that bears his name. Then there is this bus in which he always arrived at the matches.
The “Madden Cruiser,” as it was called, was more than a fun way to travel from stadium to stadium, it allowed Madden to do his job with his fear of the plane. The vehicle was featured regularly on Madden shows and became a sensation in its day.
Madden was able to fly during his coaching career, but as a broadcaster he decided to give up the attempt to travel through the air. The football legend said his fear of flying stems from claustrophobia, although many believed it was the plane crash of the California Polytechnic State University football team that took held on October 29, 1960. Madden graduated from Cal Poly in 1958 and had friends who died on air travel.
He said (according to NBC Sports) that his fear was born long before the crash: “I didn’t like getting on planes before that. I was claustrophobic and it got worse over the years.”
As a result, Madden preferred to travel by bus, which led to the creation of the cruiser. Greyhound then agreed to an endorsement deal with Madden in 1987 that included a personal driver and all expenses for the bus.
The bus also allowed Madden to see the country and interact with football fans. There are countless stories of Madden stopping in random towns along its route, attending minor league baseball games, and admiring different states.
Madden not only traveled in the vehicle, he also held interviews there, cementing the legacy of the bus in the NFL community. The original Madden Cruiser was introduced to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2018.