Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Cris Collinsworth no longer will be NFL Net's analyst
It's possible you've heard the news by now, but just in case: John Madden retired Thursday.
Here is my news story about it. Click below for excerpts from Madden's interview Thursday on KCBS in San Francisco and from NBC's conference call on the subject, as well as assorted statements from assorted people about Mr. Madden.
As part of his new gig as Madden's successor on Sunday night games, Cris Collinsworth will leave the NFL Network after three seasons. A statement from the NFL Network boss Steve Bornstein:
"Cris is the best analyst currently working in sports and he has been a wonderful part of NFL Network's team for the past three years. We are happy for him that he has been chosen to be the new analyst on 'Sunday Night Football.' We appreciate everything he did for our 'Thursday Night Football' broadcasts and wish him the best in his new role at NBC."MADDEN ON KCBS RADIO
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 eight and he's the oldest one. They're eight, seven, six, five, four, and three. 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 primetime 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 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 if 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 DECISION-MAKING 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 towards 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 AMERICA EMBRACING MADDEN: "It's really about how John embraced them. There was never a period that he wasn't the biggest presence in any room and not because he's a big man, he was larger than life. The thing that made him larger than life was that he was 'everyman.'
"John could as easily be bumped into first by an eight-year old who invariably always said 'Hey Madden, can you sign this?' because as an eight-year old that's how he knew him because 'Madden' is the game. If a guy said 'Hey John,' that usually meant that that guy was probably 40, 50 and had followed John as a broadcaster, and that was Pat Summerall and Al, every night of the football season saying 'Hey John,' so everyone would be saying 'Hey John.' Anybody who ever said 'Hey Coach,' they remembered he was the best coach in the game in his time. But no matter what his stature was, he always related to everybody. It didn't matter whether it was in Nebraska or on a red carpet at Radio City Music Hall in New York. He always had time for everybody."
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 CONVINCE 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 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 DECISION TO RETIRE: "It is a sad day, but it's a happy day because, for those of you who know John, he's going out his way."
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."
EBERSOL ON MADDEN'S EVERYMAN PERSONALITY AND TEASING:
"One of the greatest things about John was in being that 'everyman' he also spoke so succinctly, so completely to the point, you never got any sense of artifice, and if he smelled any, he was not that keen on hanging out with you. He was great about life's lessons. They were always tied in with the most unbelievable amount of teasing, and that brings up the fact that when he first told me a week ago Tuesday night that he was retiring, I took a pause inside for a good 15 seconds, wondering if he was pulling my leg. So for the first 10 seconds of that conversation the other night, I thought we might be there, but I realized very quickly as the conversation went on that he was totally serious and had poured a lot of thought into it."
STATEMENT FROM AL MICHAELS ON JOHN MADDENS RETIREMENT
John will always have a unique place in the history of pro football.
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.
On a personal note, I'll miss working with John on many levels. As a broadcast partner, I could always count on him -- no one ever came to work more prepared. As a friend and confidante, loyalty has always been paramount to John. And all in all, he was simply just great company.
As John said today, 'it was time." That's John -- succinct, pithy and right to the point. Working with John for the last seven years has provided memories I'll always treasure. My only regret is that it wasn't 27."
FOX NFL SUNDAY ANALYST HOWIE LONG:
Millions of football fans have come to know John as a media icon who redefined not only NFL broadcasting but sports broadcasting across the board. Johns presence at a game came to signify that the game had great meaning to both the viewing audience and more importantly to the players who were participating in the game. Multiple generations of young football fans came to know the game of football and John through his video game. Trust me, I had many a late night waiting for one of my three boys to get home at 1:00 AM because the newest Madden game was being released at midnight. But the thing that I think of when I hear the name John Madden is great coach, Hall of Fame coach. To me, thats truly what defines who John is. He is a teacher and a coach and always will be. NFL Sundays just wont be the same.
FOX SPORTS CHAIRMAN DAVID HILL:
"I am still in shock about John's announcement. He may well be 73, but he has the drive, enthusiasm and mental agility of a 24 year-old. John is, and has always been a powerful force of nature. A heady mix of wisdom, football lore, and boyish glee - an insatiable curiosity, and the God given ability to utilize his teacher training skills from so long ago to impart what we see, but don't see, on the football field. He always spoke as a knowledgeable friend, always speaking with and to the viewer, never at the viewer. When we started FOX Sports, he joyously embraced the credo Same Game - New Attitude, and everything we did. Computerized scoring, the Fox Box, the close up audio - everything we brought to the mix. The first down line, which has become the most necessary part of a broadcaster's tools, was a John Madden idea. I loved listening to him on FOX, I loved listening to him on NBC - just as I had loved listening to him on CBS. My bet is this retirement will be short, and that amazingly agile mind will be dreaming up new things to do!"
FOX SPORTS PRESIDENT ED GOREN:
John is an original. He's been the face of the NFL for three decades and by far and away the number one sports analyst on television. Amazingly, he's been so dominant that he's never been challenged. Johns impact on the way television covers the NFL is a legacy that will last well into the future. During the time I worked with him at CBS and FOX, he wasnt just a lead analyst, John was always our head coach.
NFL ON FOX LEAD ANALYST TROY AIKMAN:
John and I first met when I was player and our friendship grew closer when I went into broadcasting. He was always available and had great advice. My induction into the Hall of Fame was made even more special because we went in side-by-side. Johns the guy you want to sit next to during a game and, for thirty years, he essentially was. During a broadcast, youd think he was talking directly to you. I, along with millions of other fans, will miss hearing an old friend on Sundays.
TNT NBA ANALYST DOUG COLLINS:
Obviously (John Madden) is a guy who is the gold standard of all analysts in all sports. He set such a standard, the bar was always so high. I think even Dick Ebersol for NBC said he was the one analyst who could increase ratings just by him being on a telecast, which is an incredible thing to say that an analyst could have that kind of impact. The joy and passion he brought to the booth, he lifted everyone elses standards up. The way he did the analysis and all that he brought to it, all the different things were incredible. (He had a) unique style and the ability to capture people and keep them in front of their televisions every night when he was doing a game. As an analyst and a guy who has been in it a long time, I used to listen to a lot of his telecasts and take a lot of things he did with his analysis and fit it to my personality because there was only one John Madden personality-wise. He will definitely be missed and Ill always thank him for the entertainment he gave me when I watched NFL football.
NFL COMMISH ROGER GOODELL:
"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 an unpretentious way that made it more understandable and fun.
Johns 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.
As namesake of the worlds most popular sports videogame, John also introduced the game of football to generations of young fans.
It is only fitting that his last game as an announcer was this years Super Bowl the most-watched TV program of all-time. He is stepping down as a true Super Bowl champion."
ESPN/ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer:
"John Madden is a true legend and Hall of Famer who has put his imprint on the NFL in so many ways as a coach, broadcaster, ambassador, and as the face of the popular video game that bears his name. We thank him for the years he spent on Monday Night Football, and I personally thank him for his friendship. We will all miss his signature calls, his passion for the game and seeing him in the television booth each week of the NFL season, but his impact on the league and its fans will continue to be felt. I wish him all the best in his retirement."