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Published:April 17th, 2009 09:49 EST
Noted NFL Commentator John Madden Retires After 30 Years In Broadcasting

Noted NFL Commentator John Madden Retires After 30 Years In Broadcasting

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Famous color commentator John Madden announced he is retiring from broadcasting for the NFL after a career that lasted thirty years and spanned across all four major television networks. Renowned for his playful if somewhat naive demeanor and his oddball catchphrases, John Madden has been recognized as one of the most popular and influential sports broadcasters from the last three decades

Madden revealed earlier Thursday he was leaving his post he had held for the last three years on NBC`s "Sunday Night Football". Prior to retirement, Madden co-hosted Super Bowl XLIII with NBC broadcaster Al Michaels. Fellow NBC sports personality Cris Collinsworth will leave his studio anchor spot to replace Madden on SNF next year. Collinsworth filled in for Madden on "Sunday Night" in October when the 73-year old experienced health problems which ended Madden`s 476-week streak for consecutive football broadcasts.

On his radio program on KCBS in San Francisco, Madden said: "You know at some point you have to do this - I got to that point. The thing that made it hard is not becuse I`m second-guessing, `is it the right decision?` But I enjoyed it so damn much. I enjoyed the game and the players and the coaches and the film and the travel and everything."

When asked whether the decision was difficult, Madden responded: "If you hated part of it or if something was wrong, it`d be easy."

Madden put to rest doubts over his health, saying he was perfectly fine and after spending thirty years in the broadcast booth, he said that he wanted more time to spend with his family. The critically acclaimed sports personality just turned 73 on April 10th.

He brought up the fact that his 50th wedding anniversary was coming up in the fall and that all five of his grandchildren are now at an age when they notice that Grandpa is off at work. He and his wife Virginia Fields have had two sons, Joseph and Michael.

Madden`s friend and longtime NFL co-host Al Michaels asserted that he will have a special niche reserved for him in broadcasting and in NFL history.

Michaels stated: "No one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant and more enjoyable to watch and listen to than John. There`s never been anyone like him and he`s been the gold standard for analysts for almost three decades."

Before going into broadcasting, Madden started his football career as a coach at Buffalo State College before bouncing between various universities holding different jobs in coaching. In 1967, the Oakland Raiders` executive Al Davis hired Madden as the team`s linebackers coach in a year that the Raiders reached Super Bowl II. One year later, when John Rauch resigned as the team`s head coach, Madden was given the position of head coach: becoming the NFL`s youngest coach at 32. During his ten years as an NFL head coach, for the Oakland Raiders, Madden compiled a record of 103-32-7 in the regular-season and led the Raiders to 7 division championships, 1 conference championship and a Super Bowl title in 1976. He also has the distinctions of never recording a losing season and being the youngest coach ever to achieve 100 career regular-season wins, in only ten seasons in the league, by the age of 42.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated: "There is one thing football fans have agreed on for decades: they all love John Madden. John was a Hall of Fame coach before becoming one of the most-celebrated personalities in sports. He had an incredible talent for explaining the game in a unpretentious way that made it more understandable and fun. John`s respect and passion for the game always stood out. He was the ultimate football fan who also happened to be an extraordinarily talented coach and broadcaster."

After resigning from the Raiders, Madden broadcasted smaller market football for CBS, before being promoted to co-host of CBS`s primetime football alongside Pat Summerall in 1981. He remained with the network until CBS dropped NFL football coverage in 1994, after which he signed on with Fox. After announcing Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002, Madden left Fox and joined ABC`s "Monday Night Football, where he formed the longstanding broadcasting partnership with Al Michaels.

He had been a color commentator for NBC`s Sunday Night Football games from 2006 thru 2008, making him the only broadcaster to have been employed under all of the "Big Four" U.S. television networks.

In the years that followed 1988, John Madden has licensed his image, name, and voice talents to Electronic Arts to produce the "Madden NFL Football" brand video game for most game consoles. "Madden NFL" has now become the best-selling sports video game of all time.

Since 1979 when was first hired to host football coverage on CBS, Madden has been praised and ridiculed for his spry idiosyncratic commentary and charismatic television persona geared toward the "working man" fan. His particular broadcasting style was highlighted by punchy onomatopoeia and his pioneering use of the telestrator in projecting his handwritten graphs of the plays on the field over live television and on replays. The practice has now become the standard all across sports, and he is predominantly credited for this accomplishment. His "Maddenisms", which are redundant comments on gameplay with fresh twists, have been satirized by comics like Frank Caliendo.

NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol regards Madden as "the best sports broadcaster who ever lived."

Madden alluded to retiring for the past several months, but didn`t want to rush to judgment too hastily and said that he would make his decision two months after the Super Bowl. He confronted Ebersol with the news last week of his decision to retire.

Ebersol flew out to Madden`s Pleasanton home in California on Wednesday and tried to convince him to rethink coming back next year. He even added incentives into his contract that would allow him to work games in September and November and take off telecasts in October and December. Madden wouldn`t budge on his decision however before releasing the news that he was calling it quits.

Ebersol said: "I knew right away there was no way of talking him out of it. I knew in his voice he really thought about this."