MADDEN RETIRES FROM BROADCASTING
“Heck, I can’t even say it, but I’ve decided to retire.” – John Madden
“The greatest treat I’ve ever had in all the years that I’ve been in business.” – Ebersol on Working With Madden
NEW YORK – April 16, 2009 – NBC Sports today conducted a media conference call with Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports and Sandy Montag, Senior Corporate Vice President, IMG and John Madden’s longtime agent to discuss Madden’s retirement from broadcasting.
For a complete replay of the call, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode 8469098.
Madden appeared on his “Daily Madden” radio show this morning on KCBS to discuss his retirement. The entire spot can be heard at KCBS.com. Highlights from both, follow:
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.”
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.