John Madden’s fat belly, a symptom of his health problems

Dr Gabe Mirkin

John Madden was 32 when the Oakland Raiders hired him to become the youngest head coach in the National Football League. He’s never known a losing season, with an exceptional 103-32-7 record in his 10 seasons with the team. They have made the playoffs eight times and won Super Bowl XI on Jan. 9, 1977. His winning percentage of 0.759 remains the highest for an NFL coach with at least 100 wins. He was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame at age 70 in 2006. After retiring from coaching in 1979, he arguably rose to prominence as a career broadcaster and won 16 Emmy Awards. on the four major networks.

No cause has been given for his sudden death at the age of 85 on December 28, 2021, but his photos show significant abdominal obesity which suggests diabetes and heart problems. Abdominal obesity usually means that a person has too much fat in their liver, which causes insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart attacks.

Early life and career in football
Madden was an offensive lineman in high school and won a football scholarship to the University of Oregon. While at the University of Oregon, he broke world mile record holder John Landy in a 40-yard sprint, but never played in a soccer game there due to a knee injury requiring surgery. He transferred to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he was the entire conference offensive tackle and was also a catcher for their baseball team. He was the 244th pick in the 1958 NFL Philadelphia Eagles Draft, but soon after joining the team he injured his other knee and never played professional football. However, quarterback Norm Van Brocklin fell in love with him and spent time teaching him football science as they watched football movies together.
In 1960, at the age of 24, he was hired as an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, and became head coach there in 1962 In 1964, he became an assistant defensive coach at the State of San Diego, and they became the best small university equipment in the country. At the incredibly young age of 31, he was hired as a linebacker coach for the AFL Oakland Raiders and they reached the Super Bowl that year. The following year, Raiders head coach John Rauch resigned to fill the same position with the Buffalo Bills, and John Madden, at 32, became the youngest football head coach in the AFL of all time. Over the next seven years, the Oakland Raiders reached five AFC championship games. On January 9, 1977, the Madden Raiders won the Super Bowl, making them the best professional football team in the country. On January 4, 1979, he retired from coaching due to a stomach ulcer and the pressures of being a professional trainer.

In 1979, at age 43, Madden started out as a color commentator on CBS, and two years later he and Pat Summerall began a series of Super Bowl reporting together for eight years. In 1994, Madden and Summerall joined Fox Sports for seven years. Madden’s contract was higher than any active NFL player. In 2002, at age 66, he joined ABC’s Monday Night Football show with Al Michaels. Madden was making $ 5 million a year. In 2006, he joined NBC and became the first sports commentator to work for all of the major US television networks.

Why he was such a popular sports commentator
Madden knew more about football than almost any other broadcaster and used a “telestrator,” in which he drew the plays while he explained what had just happened. He also created a whole new language for each room. Examples include “Boom! “,” Whap! “,” Bang! “,” Doink! “And” Bam! He picked players to make up the “All-Madden Team” which competed with the pro team’s picks. In addition to his radio, television, and film work, he supported and helped develop the wildly popular Madden NFL video game series. He retired from broadcasting in 2009, at age 73.
Anxiety, permanent medical problems and death
In 1960, when Madden was 24, the team manager and 16 members of his California Polytechnic State University football team died in a plane crash. Nineteen years later, in 1979, Madden had a severe panic attack while on a flight from Tampa and decided he would never travel on an airplane again. At first he traveled between cities by train, but in 1987 he made a deal with Greyhound Lines to provide him with a personalized bus and drivers in return for advertisements and lectures. His refusal to fly resulted in him never commenting on the Pro Bowl in Honolulu or any of the preseason games outside of North America.

In 1978, at age 42, he quit coaching the Oakland Raiders at a time when he was considered one of the best coaches in professional football. He had stomach ulcers, panic attacks, multiple joint problems, and joint surgeries. In 2015, at age 79, he underwent bypass surgery for blocked arteries leading to his heart and was hospitalized several times for medical problems in his heart, hip, knee and esophagus. He died at his home in Pleasanton, Calif., On December 28, 2021, at the age of 85.

Anyone with a Large Belly Should be Examined for Diabetes
I never saw John Madden’s medical records, but he had a very large stomach, which is often a sign of fatty liver disease which causes diabetes resulting in heart disease. Because her grandson suffers from Type I diabetes (juvenile diabetes), Madden was an active spokesperson and fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for many years. Madden is likely to have been affected by the much more common Type II diabetes, although I couldn’t find any evidence of it. Over seventy percent of North American adults will develop diabetes or prediabetes, conditions that can be reversed with lifestyle changes. Insulin resistance (lack of response to insulin) is the cause of the majority of cases of type II diabetes and prediabetes, and insulin resistance is caused by excess fat in the body. liver (J Clin Invest, May 19, 2020).

Definition of insulin resistance
Insulin drives sugar, fat, and protein into cells. Insulin resistance means that cells do not respond to insulin, so sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Everyone’s blood sugar rises after eating, but if blood sugar rises too much, sugar irreversibly sticks to cells and can destroy all types of cells in your body. To prevent blood sugar from rising too much, your pancreas releases insulin into your bloodstream, which lowers blood sugar levels by driving sugar from the bloodstream to the liver. However, if the liver is full of fat, it cannot accept sugar and the blood sugar level increases even more. Insulin resistance can be reversed by flushing fat from the liver and muscles.

Diabetes fatty liver sequence
• After eating, your blood sugar level increases.
• Your pancreas responds to high blood sugar by releasing insulin
• Insulin lowers blood sugar by driving sugar from your bloodstream to your liver and muscles.
• Your liver and muscles can only store a limited amount of sugar.
• Any extra sugar that cannot be stored is converted into fatty triglycerides
• The extra triglycerides damage your blood vessels, so insulin pulls triglycerides from your bloodstream to your liver, fat cells and muscles.
• Your fat cells fill with fat and you gain weight
• Your liver cells fill with fat and you develop fatty liver disease.
• The fat in your liver prevents your liver from accepting sugar from your bloodstream, so you stop responding to insulin and become unresponsive to insulin (Gastroenterology, 2008; 134 (5): 1369–1375)
• The more fat you have in your liver, the higher your insulin resistance (Gastroenterology, 2008; 135 (1): 122–130)
• The higher your insulin level, the more fat you deposit in your liver (Hepatology, 2014; 59 (6): 2178–2187) because insulin resistance causes more fat to be deposited in the liver (J Clin Invest, 2020; 130 (3): 1453-1460)
• Insulin resistance causes you to deposit fat in your belly so that you end up apple-shaped with a big belly and small buttocks (J Clin Invest, 1986; 78 (6): 1648–1657)
• Since sugar cannot enter a fatty liver, your blood sugar continues to rise more and more until you become diabetic. It is liver fat, not muscle fat, that leads to diabetes (Proc Natl Acad Sci United States, 2009; 106 (36): 15430–15435)
• Being fat without having excess fat in the liver does not cause diabetes (Obesity, 2010; 18 (8): 1510-1515)
• A high rise in blood sugar causes sugar to stick to the outer membranes of cells, which damages and destroys them.
• Insulin resistance and the resulting high blood sugar levels can damage every cell in the body and cause inflammation that leads to heart attacks and cancer (Diabetes, 1992; 41 (3): 368–377)
• As a person loses weight, the fat in the liver is reduced and the person becomes better able to respond to insulin (Metab cell, 2016; 23 (4): 591–601)

My recommendations
Almost everyone with a big stomach and small butt has fat stored in their liver and already has diabetes or pre-diabetes. To prevent fat from entering your liver, you need to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high after meals. You can do this by:
• Exercise before or after eating. The contracting muscles remove sugar from your bloodstream without the need for insulin.
• Base your diet on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds.
• Severely restrict foods containing added sugar and all sugary drinks, including fruit juices, mammalian meat, processed meats and fried foods. If you are overweight, also limit sources of refined carbohydrates such as baked goods, white rice, ground corn, pasta, and most dry breakfast cereals. See Diabetes is often forgotten

Dr Gabe Mirkin is a villager. Learn more at


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