John Madden died on December 28, and the world lost a Super Bowl-winning coach, esteemed sportscaster, and frequent commercial pitchman. Rather than flying to cities around the country to cover football, he traveled in a custom bus known as the Madden Cruiser.
Madden suffered three attacks of claustrophobia while flying, which caused him to change methods of travel, according to a 1990 report from Sports Illustrated. He switched to trains for a while, but this wasn't always the most convenient option because of dealing with the Amtrak schedule.
In 1987, the Madden Cruiser arrived when Greyhound offered him a customized bus and access to a driver for three years. Madden just had to do promotions for the transport company and make speaking appearances. Plus, after the three-year period, Madden got to keep the bus.
Over the years, new iterations of the Madden Cruiser arrived. In 1994, he upgraded to a bus with branding from Outback Steakhouse. Other versions of the vehicle came in 1998 and 2002.
The video embedded above offers a brief tour of the original Madden Cruiser from 1991. The interior is fairly boring by the lavish standards of the luxury motorhomes available today, but the layout is quite nice for the time. There's even a VCR for Madden to analyze games from the road.
Following Madden's death, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talked fondly about riding in the bus. He and Madden used it to attend pre-season training for various teams. Goodell said pulling into a rest stop in the Madden Cruiser was a wild experience because everyone came out to see Madden and the vehicle.
According to the Sports Illustrated story, Madden loved that the bus gave him an opportunity to see seldom-visited parts of the country. For example, he discovered a Mexican restaurant in the small town of Van Horn, Texas, and made it a frequent stop when in the area. The video below tells that story.