SAN FRANCISCO -- John Madden's odyssey from larger-than-life professional football coach to the recognized voice of America's sports fans has been lined with gold.

Today, Madden seems omnipresent on television, pitching everything from the less filling taste of Miller Lite beer to the joys of staying at Ramada Inn. The former Oakland Raiders mentor, turned CBS sportscaster, has fashioned his endorsement career into a more than $1 million-a-year payday with plenty of opportunities on the horizon.

"What makes a former coach or athlete unique among their peers is winning," said Sandy Montag, Madden's agent with International Management Group. "John was a winner, people believe winners. The offers never seem to stop. We probably get 10 a week in the off-season."

Last month, Madden unveiled his latest enterprise. He will attempt to help turn around Greyhound Bus Lines Inc. with a series of motivational speeches to the company's employes. The three-year deal includes the use of his own customized Greyhound bus (the Maddencruiser) and a crew of two drivers on call 24 hours a day.

Like all Madden's post-coaching ventures, the Greyhound deal came about by chance.

"The thing about endorsements is that you don't go out looking for them, they come to you," Madden said with arms gesturing grandly. "You don't know if someone wants you, or if you do get an endorsement, you don't know if you'll ever get another. The deal with Greyhound began when they {Amtrak executives} started talking about cutting back in train service. I happened to mention I might want to get one of those buses to travel around in. They {Greyhound} must have heard me."

Greyhound President Vander Brown said there was another strong reason for signing Madden to a deal with the bus company.

"He's probably the most famous nonflier in America today," Brown said. "John exemplifies enthusiasm and that's the image we want to project to our employes."

Madden burst onto the American advertising scene in 1980, a little less than a year after he called it quits as the highly successful coach of the Raiders.

"I really didn't want to do any commercials or television when I first retired," he said. "I just wanted to spend time with my wife and family and buy a mobile {home} and travel around America. But, hey, time with the wife and kids is overrated. They had their own lives, and I ended up sitting at home with the dog.

"CBS and Miller Lite kept calling back. They thought I was telling them I didn't want to do anything because I was holding out for more money. Finally, I had to do something to get out of the house so I said okay to both of them."

Madden -- whose playing career was ended by a knee injury after one year with the Philadelphia Eagles -- was one of the first former jocks chosen for Miller Lite's "tastes great, less filling" ad campaign. The ads' success has paralleled Madden's and was the first step in his evolution toward his status as an American pop culture hero.

The mystique was enhanced by his work for CBS Sports. Madden's rumpled dress and excitable nature captured the fancy of the common man.

After enduring a few "sweaty palms" early in his career as a sportscaster, Madden is now the lead analyst on CBS's main National Football League broadcast each week. But that is only part of the self-propelled industry that could easily be named Madden Enterprises.

First, there is John Madden the author.

"They say everyone has a book in them," he said. "But most people die before they write it down. I decided I wanted to do mine before I died."

Madden's first volume -- "Hey, Wait a Minute (I Wrote A Book!)" -- has sold more than 400,000 copies. His second effort -- "One Knee Equals Two Feet" -- stayed on the national best-seller list for weeks and brought Madden more than $300,000 in royalties.

His newest book, which will hit the stands by early 1988, will deal with his travels across America.

"I'm a great fan of John Steinbeck," said Madden. "My favorite is his book 'Travels with Charley.' I've always wanted to do a travel book, but the working title was going to be 'Traveling the Rails.' Now that I'm traveling by bus, I'll have to get another title."

The advance for Madden's latest book, literary insiders said, was in the neighborhood of $400,000. And the book should hit the national best-seller list, they said.

Another division of Madden Enterprises is John Madden, public speaker. Even though the rumpled-dressing former NFL coach prefers being a corporate spokesman, he does an occasional speech for as much as $30,000 an appearance.

However, the most lucrative part of Madden's business empire is endorsements, generally the private domain of great athletes and movie stars.

"He's at the top of the heap as far as sportscasters go," said Steve Levitt, of Marketing Evaluation Inc., a Port Washington, N.Y., firm that does a yearly survey of name marketability called the Q Rating. "Both Merlin Olsen and Bob Uecker are close to Madden, but they both have been in popular television shows. Madden, for now, is just a sportscaster."

Madden certainly is making the most of his new-found image.

Last year, national ads for Miller beer, Ramada Inns, Exxon motor oil, McDonalds restaurants and Canon film brought the former Oakland Raiders coach about $800,000. Local ads in the San Francisco area for a Toyota dealer added to the till.

But Madden said he is careful with the kinds of products he represents.

"There have been endorsements I've turned down," Madden said. "I rode Amtrak for a number of years but never thought about being a spokesman for them. When you put your name behind something people seem to want to complain to you. I didn't want to handle their complaints. I'd much rather be among the complainers."

Madden also seems to be handling the greatest danger facing an endorser -- overexposure -- with relative ease.

"I really don't think so," said Levitt when asked if Madden's marketability is threatened. "He's got a long way to go before he's overexposed. He's only known by about 50 percent of the population right now. The only danger is if he's getting too well known by that 50 percent."

Montag said the tale of the tape is in the increased sales figures that Madden represents.

"The sales of every product he endorses have gone up," the New York City-based agent said. "We don't listen to what other writers or critics say. We listen to Madison Avenue, and the people on Madison Avenue say Madden is hot."

But will Madden head into the entertainment field like Uecker and Olsen?

"We've had plenty of movie offers, but we've turned them all down," Montag said. "What John does best is be John Madden."