John Madden retiring from sports broadcasting
What's Frank Caliendo going to do for comedy routines now?
If anyone might have been expected to keep going until a bolt of lightning struck him, it's longtime analyst John Madden, whose rollicking, stream-of-consciousness style was a delight in his heyday but grew increasingly erratic in recent years.
But NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol announced today that Madden is retiring from the broadcast booth immediately, leaving as TVs biggest name in sportscasting and the only analyst to work for every one of the Big Four TV networks.
He will be replaced by Cris Collinsworth, a co-host and analyst on NBC for three years and former pro football player.
Ebersol is talking right now in a telephone news conference, in which he said: "When he first told me a week ago Tuesday that he was retiring, I had to take a real pause to make sure he wasn't pulling my leg ... I realized very quickly that he was totally serious and had thought it out very carefully."
Hard to believe, but there are some football fans who have never known a season without Madden in the mix.
He took his first broadcast job in 1979, after 10 years as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Madden was also one of the first coaches to make the transition from competing to analysis -- a move that is almost a standard part of a standout player or coach's career path nowadays.
At age 73, it might make sense that Madden would want to slow down. Because he refuses to fly, he has to be driven to all the games in a luxury bus coach dubbed the Madden Cruiser, racking up an estimated 80,000 miles annually.
Given that Ebersol said Madden told him last week about this decision, it's an eerie irony that the announcement comes following the death Monday of longtime sportscaster Harry Kalas, who died Monday after collapsing in the broadcast booth before a Philadelphia Phillies game. He, too, was 73.
In a separate statement, Ebersol said: "I spent all day in the Bay Area yesterday with John and tried every way I could to make sure he was sure about his decision," said Ebersol. "And in true John Madden fashion, he was sure. He said it best when he simply said 'It's time' ... and I admire him for that.
"To put any speculation to rest, John has just decided to retire because it's time – nothing more, nothing less. We will never see or hear another man like John Madden. We will sorely miss him because he was the most fun guy ever to just hang out with."
I imagine sports journalists will be hunting to discover if Madden, who is reportedly a private person off-camera, is retiring due to illness or some preemptive move by NBC.
Click below to see the network's release:
JOHN MADDEN RETIRES FROM BROADCASTING
NEW YORK – April 16, 2009 – NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol announced today that John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and the most honored broadcaster in sports television history, has decided to retire from broadcasting.
It's time. I'm 73 years old. My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I'm home and, more importantly, when I'm not...
It's been such a great ride... the NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion – it still is. I appreciate all of the people who are and were such an important part of the most enjoyable, most fun anyone could have... that great life with the teams, the players, the coaches, the owners, the League... my broadcasting partners Pat and Al... the production people and the fans...is still great... it's still fun and that's what it makes it hard and that's why it took me a few months to make a decision.
I still love every part of it – the travel, the practices, the game film, the games, seeing old friends and meeting new people... but I know this is the right time.
John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and the most honored NFL broadcaster of all time, has served as the game analyst for "NBC Sunday Night Football" since 2006. Madden, who has won an unprecedented 16 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Analyst/Personality, is renowned by football fans nationwide for his ability to analyze the details of the game with wit, candor and an inimitable style. Madden has been an NFL broadcaster for 30 years. On February 1, Madden earned rave reviews and critical acclaim in his final game, the 11th Super Bowl he called – Super Bowl XLIII on NBC.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has honored Madden with 16 Outstanding Sports Analyst/Personality Emmy Awards, the most recent from this past season. In all, Madden has been nominated for 18 Emmy Awards. In addition, the American Sportscasters Association named him Sports Personality of the Year in 1985 and 1992. In 1982, Madden became the first NFL analyst to receive the Touchdown Club of America's prestigious Golden Mike Award. Sports Illustrated has called Madden "an American fixture" and said that he "brings an unequaled big-game buzz to the broadcast booth."
Prior to joining the broadcasting ranks, Madden had an outstanding career as head coach of the NFL's Oakland Raiders. He guided the Raiders to an overall record of 103-32-7, leading the team to seven AFC Western Division titles and a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Madden's .750 winning percentage is the best of any head coach in NFL history. In 2006, Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Head Coach.
A linebacker coach when he began his NFL coaching career with Oakland in 1967, Madden became the head coach in 1969 at age 33, the youngest head coach in the American Football League. Madden retired in 1979 and started his broadcasting career at CBS later that same year. Madden was the lead NFL analyst for FOX from 1994-2002 and the analyst for ABC's "Monday Night Football" for four years before he came to NBC Sports in 2006. He is the only person to work as the lead analyst for all four broadcast networks.
Madden's EA Sports video game "Madden NFL Football" is the No. 1 selling sports video game of all-time with more than 65 million copies sold since its release 20 years ago. Madden is also one of the leading spokesmen in the advertising world, with endorsement relationships including Ace Hardware, Outback Steakhouse, Schering Plough (Tinactin), Verizon Wireless and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Before coaching in Oakland, Madden was the defensive coordinator at San Diego State from 1964-66 where the Aztecs were ranked first among small colleges with a 26-4 record. From 1960-64 Madden coached at Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, Calif.
Madden started on both the offensive and defensive lines as a player for California Polytechnic College at San Luis Obispo in 1957 and 1958 and was voted to the All-Conference team. He was also a catcher on the school's baseball team. Madden earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1959 and a Master of Arts degree in 1961, both from Cal Poly. The Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the 21st round of the 1958 NFL draft, but a knee injury in his rookie season prematurely ended his career.
Madden is the author of several New York Times best-selling books: Hey, Wait a Minute! (I Wrote a Book!); One Knee Equals Two Feet (and Everything Else You Need To Know About Football); One Size Doesn't Fit All; and All Madden, each written with New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson. He has also written a cookbook titled John Madden's Ultimate Tailgating.
Born April 10, 1936 in Austin, Minn., Madden was raised in Daly City, Calif. He now resides in Pleasanton, Calif., with his wife, Virginia. The couple has two sons and five grandchildren.