PLEASANTON, Calif. - Pleasanton is home to nearly 80,000, and for 54 years, it was where one of the NFL's biggest stars resided.
"You hear about celebrities getting hassled where ever they go. John [Madden] didn’t get hassled in Pleasanton. If someone came up to talk to him, you were like his best friend even if he just met you," said Dennis Miller, the former Tri-Valley Herald sports editor for 26 years.
Miller also announced Foothill High's freshman football games when John’s son Mike Madden was the coach. Coach Madden didn’t miss many games
"John would come sit in the press box and hang out," said Miller. "He would just start breaking down the freshman football game like he did on NFL games on Sunday. It was amazing to just sit there and listen to him."
Others in the East Bay town said he fit in with his neighbors.
"He was just a regular guy. Warm, down to earth, kind, funny, compassionate," said Father Mark Wiesner, the pastor of St. Augustine's Church.
Sundays weren't just about football for Madden. Wiesner said the ex-coach rarely missed a service at church.
Some people football is on Sundays, so church doesn't happen that week, but John didn’t take that tack," said Wiuesner. "He wanted to live his faith as best he could around his very demanding Sunday schedule."
Madden had a big appetite. Vic’s on Main-Street was his breakfast spot. His picture hangs inside and he sat at the same table four days a week. His favorite seat became a shrine after Madden died in December. He ordered the Coach Madden special every time, which features corned beef hash and eggs over easy.
"We are happy to serve because he was a regular customer a very normal person, very nice because we know he’s famous and he treats everyone the same," said Laura Castro, the owner of Vic's.
Madden invested in Pleasanton. The Rose Hotel is one of his many properties
If he wasn't lunching there you would find him at Dellatore's sitting at table 10. He loved spicy food, but most of all just a good quiet meal.
"He tried to keep a low profile when he was here," said Lee Delatorre, the owner. "Especially when having lunch with his family, but once you heard his voice you knew he was in house."
Unassuming, friendly, out-going; despite all his success Madden never forgot his Daly City roots. His celebrity spanned generations … even the very little ones in Pleasanton will forever remember Coach Madden
"My grand-children go there every Halloween because he gave out huge chocolate bars to the kids," said Ann Bernhard, a Pleasanton resident.