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NFL broadcaster John Madden retires

John Madden is retiring from footballannouncing, where his enthusiastic, down-to-earth style made himone of sports' most popular broadcasters for three decades.

The Hall of Fame coach spent the last three seasons on NBC's"Sunday Night Football." His final telecast was the Super Bowl inFebruary.

"You know at some point you have to do this -- I got to thatpoint," Madden said on his Bay Area radio show Thursday. "Thething that made it hard is not because I'm second guessing, 'is itthe right decision?' But I enjoyed it so damn much.

"I enjoyed the game and the players and the coaches and thefilm and the travel and everything."

Cris Collinsworth will replace Madden, moving over from thenetwork's studio show, NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol said.Collinsworth filled in when Madden took a game off last October.

Ebersol called Madden "absolutely the best sports broadcasterwho ever lived."

Madden said his health is fine, but at the age of 73, he wantedto spend more time with his family. His 50th wedding anniversary isthis fall, and his five grandchildren are old enough to notice whenhe's gone.

"If you hated part of it or if something was wrong, it'd beeasy," Madden said.

Madden's blue-collar style and love for in-the-trenches footballendeared him to fans. His "Madden NFL Football" is thetop-selling sports video game of all time.

Madden is reluctant to fly and often traveled to games in aspecially equipped bus.

Longtime broadcast partner Al Michaels said Madden will have aunique place in pro football history.

"No one has made the sport more interesting, more relevant andmore enjoyable to watch and listen to than John," Michaels said ina statement. "There's never been anyone like him and he's been thegold standard for analysts for almost three decades."

Madden began his pro football career as a linebacker coach atOakland in 1967 and was named head coach two years later, at 33 theyoungest coach in what was then the American Football League.

Madden led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory andretired in 1979. He joined CBS later that year.

He worked at CBS until 1994 when the network lost rights tobroadcast NFL games, leading him to switch to Fox. He left Fox in2002 to become the lead analyst for ABC's "Monday Night Football"and joined NBC in 2006 when that network inaugurated a prime-timeSunday game.

Madden said that for the last several years, he waited until twomonths after the season to determine whether to continue, notwanting to rush into a decision. He surprised Ebersol when he toldhim last week he was retiring.

Ebersol flew to California on Wednesday morning and spent 11hours with Madden, trying to persuade him to change his mind.Ebersol even offered to allow Madden to call games only inSeptember and November and to take October and December off.

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

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

"There is one thing football fans have agreed on for decades:they all love John Madden," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said ina statement. "John was a Hall of Fame coach before becoming one ofthe most-celebrated personalities in sports. He had an incredibletalent for explaining the game in an unpretentious way that made itmore understandable and fun.

"John's respect and passion for the game always stood out. Hewas the ultimate football fan who also happened to be anextraordinarily talented coach and broadcaster."


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