(Photo from Pro Football Hall of Fame)
We’ll get to that interior in a moment. But first, the story of how John Madden came to be on the bus.
“People used to say to me, ‘It must be great coaching and traveling and seeing all the things you do,’ … Well, I’d get on the airplane, and then I’d get off the airplane, get on a bus and go to the hotel. Then the stadium, then the airplane again. I thought I’d traveled all over, but I hadn’t seen anything. You’ve got to be on the ground to see things.”
That’s how he told it to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, when King rode the bus with Madden – Oakland, California to New York for a 1990 Giants-Cowboys game.
In the beginning, Madden did fly. But a recurring claustrophobia put an end to that. Then he rode the train. But the train schedules weren’t flexible enough for his schedule. And so in 1987, the Madden Cruiser hit the road for the first time – logging 55,000 miles that season.
Naturally, this was no ordinary bus. It came with a bedroom (queen-sized bed), full bathroom, kitchenette and – and a built-in vacuum cleaner! On the end, there were two color TVs, phone, intercom, CB radio, two laser-disc players, a stereo system and a videotape machine (remember, this was 1987).
But if Madden started riding the bus out of necessity, he came to love it, and the country it took him through.
“We had to stop in Beaver Crossing, Nebraska [pop. 480] once, to use the phone for the radio show* … Some guy comes across the street from a gas station and introduces himself. Roger Hannon. He was the mayor, and it was his gas station. The next thing I know, we’re in front of the city hall, and the people start coming out, and they want to see the bus. One woman brought me a rhubarb pie. I didn’t even know what rhubarb pie was, but it was great. The whole town came out.”