Retiring football analyst John Madden: 'I'm just going to miss everything about it'
John Madden didn't subject himself to the conference call earlier today with reporters called hastily by NBC to spread details about his retirement from the broadcast booth after 30 years. Instead, he talked about it at 11 a.m. today on his KCBS radio show, Daily Madden.
And while Madden's absence from the network's teleconference was understandable -- NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said Madden would have just announced his retirement and vanished, if it were possible -- it also led Ebersol and others to talk about the retiring sportscaster as if he had just passed away, which was an odd feeling.
Here are a few choice quotes circulated by NBC from both Madden's broadcast and the subsequent teleconference held by Ebersol and Sandy Montag, Senior Corporate Vice President, IMG and John Madden's longtime agent.
ON RETIRING: "Heck, I can't even say it, but I've decided to retire. It's tough, not because I'm not sure it's the right time, I really feel strongly that this is the right time. I'm just going to miss everything about it because I enjoy it so much. It was one of those things when you get around 70 you have to start thinking at some point it's going to be over, but I was one that always believed you never say you're going to retire before you do, because once you say it then you've already done it in your mind and you've already quit."
ON HOW HE DECIDED TO RETIRE: "We did the Super Bowl and I thought about it the last two months. Sometimes I felt like I'm going to do it (return), and then there'd be days I'm going to retire. Finally, I was up against it. The two months were up, the NFL schedule was coming out and I said, 'This is what I'm going to do' so I called Dick Ebersol about a week ago and then he came out yesterday and we talked about it. We talked about some other possibilities and I said no. I'm ready to do this."
MADDEN ON WHY HE IS RETIRING: "One of the points I made was now my grandkids are old enough that they know when I'm gone and when I'm not. When they were younger they weren't always sure. This year is my 50th wedding anniversary and that comes in December. You just add up everything and it's just the right time."
MADDEN ON SPECULATION THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG: "There's nothing wrong. Everybody's going to say, 'Madden retires, what's wrong?' There's nothing wrong with me. I'm in the middle of a contract; I have three more years on my contract at NBC. It's not that. It's not that I'm tired of traveling in the bus. You just get to a point that you know at some point you have to do this, and I got to that point."
MADDEN ON THE DECISION BEING DIFFICULT: "The thing that made it hard is not that I'm second- guessing that it's the right decision, it's that I enjoyed it so damn much. I enjoyed the games and the players and the coaches and the film and the travel and everything. That's why it took me so long. I'm not tired of anything, but I'm going away. That's what makes it hard."
MADDEN ON RETIRING FOR THE SECOND TIME: "It's the second time I've done it. When I coached the Raiders I ended it that way. I didn't say that this would be my last year. I took some time off and I felt that I didn't want to go through it again and then that was it; I still love pro football so I retired. Then I came into television broadcasting and it was the same way. It wouldn't have been me to say the week of Super Bowl this is my last game. That's not me, I don't do that."
MADDEN ON DOING PART OF THE SEASON: "Dick Ebersol and Sandy Montag came out yesterday and we talked all about it. We talked about other possibilities, other things I could do, be it part of the season or something like that or announce I'm retired and then do some more games."
MADDEN ON WHAT'S NEXT: "I'm still going to travel. That's the thing, I'm not going to stay put. I can't do that. I'm still going to have the bus. I'll be going to the Hall of Fame in August. There is always going to be something coming up. It's not that I'm going to stop traveling or stop doing stuff. I'm still going to be doing things, I'm just not going to be doing pro football on television anymore."
MADDEN ON NOT WANTING TO MISS OUT ON HIS GRANDCHILDREN: "I kind of missed a lot of that with my own sons. When they were babies they really didn't know when you were there and when you weren't. Sam was just 8 and he's the oldest one. They're 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 and 3. Now they know. They know when I'm here and they know when I'm gone."
MADDEN'S FINAL THOUGHTS: "It was a great ride, I enjoyed every part of it, but that part of my life has come to an end now. This would be the first year I haven't had a football season since my freshman year in high school. I've had a season every year because I went from player to coach and from coach to broadcaster. In my life I've never had a season off. I've never had a football season off. This will be the first one."
EBERSOL AND MONTAG COMMENTS FROM NBC CONFERENCE CALL:
EBERSOL ON FEELINGS FOR MADDEN: "I've never had an association in some 40 years where I really was as friendly with a talent, and yet at the same time as in awe of him, not just because of his talent, just the way he is as a human being. The last three years we had prime-time football, I've left New York on Thursday morning and come back on Monday morning, and the reason I did that, aside from the fact that I thought that's where I belonged, the main reason I did it was that I had the opportunity to travel the roads of America with John Madden, and that was the greatest treat I've ever had in all the years that I've been in business."
EBERSOL ON GETTING THE CALL FROM MADDEN: "I got a phone call from John nine days ago. And he said, after some good-natured typical Madden teasing about umpteen subjects, 'I'm going to retire.' And I said, 'No you're not.' And he said, 'I'm going to retire.' From that moment forth, I sat myself out on a course to try to persuade him not to. I knew right away there was no way of talking him out of it; I could hear it in his voice that he had really thought about this for at least two months."
MONTAG ON MADDEN'S DECISIONMAKING PROCESS: "When he called Dick last Tuesday, this was something that he had been thinking about for a few months, and he and I talked about it toward the end of the season and he and I said, 'Ah, let's talk about it after.' So he'd been vacillating for a few months. It's not something that just came up, and it's nothing to do with the current schedule. He wanted to sit down for a few months and see where his mind was at and he came to his final decision last week."
EBERSOL ON MADDEN'S PLACE IN BROADCAST HISTORY: "John steps away as not just the most honored or respected football announcer ever, but as the absolute best sports broadcaster who ever lived. It so happened that his fame is probably greater than anyone else's because he did it with America's number one sport."
EBERSOL ON MADDEN RETIRING FOR THE SECOND TIME: "Here's John doing it now for the second time. He was the winningest coach, in terms of winning percentage, who ever won at least 100 games in the history of the NFL. His teams were repeatedly in the AFC Championships and the Super Bowl. He stepped away and not after a weak season. He stepped away with such a great team that Tom Flores, who succeeded him, had a team to win two Super Bowls after John left. John Madden is unparalleled. It's the mark of a man and now he's done it twice. I hate it."
EBERSOL ON TRYING TO PERSUADE MADDEN NOT TO RETIRE: "Sandy Montag and I flew out together, and he counseled me from the beginning, it would be impossible to get John to change his mind. But I thought I'd come up with a great solution that would allow him to get the best of both worlds. The proposal I laid out to him was that we have this unbelievable schedule this year, why don't you do the September games? There are so many highlights there. You do Pittsburgh, you do Green Bay, the place you made even more famous, and then go to Dallas where you did all those great games and open up the new building, and on your way home your favorite player maybe of this modern era, Peyton [Manning] is playing in a shootout with Kurt Warner, and then take October off and come back and do the games in November that sound like John Madden games; Dallas at Philadelphia, New England at Indy and Philadelphia at New York to name the first three in November, then take December off.
"We're lucky. He said, 'You've always had Cris [Collinsworth]. He's the best broadcaster there is out there.' John didn't say 'other than me' but I would, and I said, well, Cris would be happy to have the world that way. He loves his life. He's got a son who's an All-State football player in Ohio who's about to be in his senior year, and we talked about that for an hour and a half. I could see John was talking but he was doing a lot of thinking. Finally he looked at Sandy and he looked at me and said, 'It's time.' That became what he began to repeat frequently."
EBERSOL ON CRIS COLLINSWORTH: "Before we take any questions, I just want to get one thing out of the way and then explain why I'm not going to address it again until next week or the following week. John's successor will be Cris Collinsworth. Cris has always given us the luxury of having the two best broadcasters. He will step into the role with Al immediately. I'll sit down with the folks here, and we'll redesign Football Night in America. But for now, what I want to do is declare this next week 'Celebrate John Madden week' and I'll do that, but with a lump in my throat."
MONTAG ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MADDEN: "I have been with John for my entire professional career. I started in 1985 as his gopher/assistant on Amtrak, and he's taught me everything from, besides football, life, women, you name it. We've talked about everything over the years, and it's been a great ride."
MONTAG ON MADDEN'S FUTURE: "We're announcing his retirement from television broadcasting. I have no idea what else he's going to do, but he will stay active. He's too young in mind and body to go away, so he will be around. Yes, we will continue with the video game. Yes, he will still travel by bus; he will not start flying. Yes, all of his endorsement deals will continue. So, just to reiterate, there's no one thing here, there's no problem. He is healthy, he is happy, he's content, but as Dick said, it's time, it's time to spend time with your family, get on with the rest of your life."