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Ravens coach John Harbaugh says he’ll never erase the voicemails and texts he received from the late John Madden

Ravens coach John Harbaugh cherished his interactions with John Madden enough that he never erased the voicemails and texts he received from the late coach, broadcaster and video game icon, who died Tuesday at age 85.

Harbaugh co-chairs the panel of coaches Madden helped create to advise the NFL’s Competition Committee on changes to the game.

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“You’d get on the phone with him, you’d get a voicemail from him — I saw [former Houston Texans coach] Bill O’Brien saved his voice mails, and I did the same,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “I still have all of his voicemails. I mean, you don’t erase a John Madden voicemail. You don’t do it, and I never will. I’ve got his text messages; I’m probably going to get them framed.”

In offering his condolences, Harbaugh said “we all feel like we’re part of the Madden family today.”

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He added that he took direct lessons from the way Madden interacted with players: “A lot of the things we’ve done in terms of the way we approach the players, I’ve learned from him, in terms of what’s important and what you pursue and what really doesn’t matter. He had just a great feel and a great way of expressing that.”

Harbaugh sees Madden’s all-around legacy as unmatched.

“This was, some might argue, the greatest coach, when you think of it a little more globally in terms of a what, maybe 40- or 50- or 60-year impact on generations of football fans,” he said. “Nobody ever did it like he did it in terms of his ability to teach the fans the game on kind of a layman’s style that was entertaining, and then through the ‘Madden’ game.”

The video game made Madden a familiar figure to generations of players who never knew him as a coach or heard him on a broadcast.

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Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson called him “an absolute legend & football icon” in a Twitter post. “Thank you for impacting the game we love,” the “Madden 21″ cover athlete wrote.

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