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Ebersol says Madden retirement will stick; Collinsworth named as replacement

by Nick Zaino, posted Apr 16th 2009 2:24PM
John Madden retiresJohn Madden is done. NBC announced today that Madden, perhaps the most famous broadcaster in football history apart from Howard Cosell, is retiring from the booth after covering the NFL for 30 years, winning 16 Emmys and the admiration of football friends everywhere.

Madden addressed listeners this morning on KCBS in San Francisco about the decision, which was obviously not easy for him. "I decided to retire," he said. "Heck I can't even say it. It's tough, not because I'm not sure it's the right time. I really feel strongly this is the right time. I'm just going to miss everything about it because I enjoyed it so much."

Football is in Madden's blood. He's a Hall of Fame coach, winning the Super Bowl with the Raiders in 1977, a college stand-out offensive tackle from California Polytechnic State University, and his Madden NFL is a perennial best-selling video game on multiple platforms. He joined ABC's Monday Night Football crew in 2002, and spent the past three years on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Doubtlessly, many fans hope the 73-year-old Madden might pull a Brett Favre and come right back out of retirement. NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol says don't count on it.

In a conference call with reporters at noon today, Ebersol said he got the call from Madden nine days ago. "After some good-natured typical Madden teasing about umpteen subjects, he said, 'I'm gonna retire,'" said Ebersol. "And I went, no you're not, and he said, 'I'm gonna retire.' And from that moment forth, at set myself on a course to try to persuade him not to."

Ebersol says he and Madden's longtime agent and friend, Sandy Montag, spent about 11 hours yesterday talking to Madden about the decision. Heeding Montag's counsel that it would be "nigh on impossible" to get Madden to change his mind, Ebersol tried to entice Madden with a limited schedule, covering games with his favorite teams and players, and taking October and December off.

John Madden and Al Michaels"He was talking but I could tell he was doing a lot of thinking," said Ebersol. "But finally he looked at Sandy and back at me and said, 'It's time.' That became what he began to repeat frequently."

Ebersol said health was not a factor in Madden's retirement - he said a recent physical showed Madden to be in his best shape in a while. But Madden is 73, and he's spent a lot of time away from family, touring the country by bus (he's noted for his fear of flying) covering the NFL.

"It is his age, it is the fact that he and Virginia have been married for 50 years, the anniversary is coming up this fall," said Ebersol. "He's missed so many. He has his two boys living within seven or eight miles of him, and they have five children, John's five grandchildren. And every one of them now is old enough, as he says, to know when he's home, but more importantly, to know when he's not."

Ebersol says he is in awe of Madden, first "as a human being," and gives him the highest praise as a professional. "He's reached the point where he'd done everything you could possibly do," he says. "John steps away not as the most honored or respected football announcer, he's the absolute best sports broadcaster who ever lived. And it so happened that his fame is probably bigger than anyone else's because he did it with America's number one sport."

Madden will be replaced on Sunday Night Football by Cris Collinsworth, former Bengals wide receiver and analyst for Showtime and the NFL Network, where he will be paired with play-by-play man Al Michaels.

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Adam

YAY!!!!!!!!!

Mr Obvious is finally retiring.

Football commentators have become horrible in the last 10+ years. First with stating the obvious.

Classic Madden quotes:

"When your arm gets hit, the ball is not going to go where you want it to."
"Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest guys on the field, they're
bigger than everybody else, and that's what makes them the biggest
guys on the field."
"Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon."

And then not being able to dress themselves. Seriously...did you really think that tie matched your shirt?

Let's get some people who can actually provide some interesting commentary, not just cause they used to play the game.

April 17 2009 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cj

I'm sorry Madden is retiring. I loved him and Michael's together they were magic. I'm not sure Chris is the right choice. But let's give the guy a chance.........

April 17 2009 at 4:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

Collinsworth sucks!

This is terrible news.

April 16 2009 at 4:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
debi

Good! I know he is a legend, but he never shuts up! Now I can watch the game with the volume up!

April 16 2009 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
johngaltx

I have only got one thing to say to Mr. Madden: "...and it's caught out of the air! The ball is pulled in by Franco Harris! Harris is going for a touchdown for Pittsburgh! I don't even know where he came from...."


April 16 2009 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Celli

(facepalm) and then I did the same. CRIS Collinsworth.

April 16 2009 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Celli

There's no "h" in Chris Collinsworth's first name. (Sports Night reference, anyone?)

April 16 2009 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Celli's comment
John

Andruw Jones is spelled with a U.

April 16 2009 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Bah, Collinsworth. Super smart guy, but I dont want to hear him in the booth.

April 16 2009 at 3:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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