Tom Jackson will retire from broadcasting after this weekend’s Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend, ESPN announced Wednesday.
The former Broncos linebacker joined ESPN in 1987 and has been one of its most respected and prominent NFL analysts.
“I have been blessed in my adult life to work for two companies, the Denver Broncos and ESPN, to do two things that I love — play football and talk about football,” Jackson, 65, said in a news release.
“Having joined in the early stages of ESPN and remained with the same company for 29 years is especially gratifying. The friendships made are too numerous to mention, but I know that many of them will last a lifetime.
“I also want to thank all the fans who supported me over the years and made my job so enjoyable. This move just comes at a time when the priority of my life is spending time with my family.”
Jackson’s departure was not unexpected, and it furthers what will be a drastically new look for ESPN’s NFL studio shows this season.
One of the few returning personalities will be longtime host Chris Berman, who reportedly could be leaving after this season.
Berman and Jackson worked together throughout Jackson’s time at the network, most notably on the pioneering “NFL PrimeTime” show that ran on Sunday nights from 1987 to 2005.
Jackson was honored in 2015 with the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.
“Tom has been an integral part of ESPN’s presentation of the NFL for three decades,” ESPN president John Skipper said in the news release.
“His partnership with Chris Berman has been a signature for us and a treasure for fans. His influence as a trusted voice and mentor for the generation of players who followed him is an important part of his legacy.
“Tom is as widely respected internally as anyone in our company, not to mention beloved. He has been a pleasure to work with and he will always be an ESPN family member.”
Said Berman: “Every day working with Tom was a treasure. I know every day he appeared on ESPN was a treasure for football fans. His knowledge, his passion, his insight and his overall joie de vivre makes him special — in fact, makes him unique.
“I was lucky to spend 29 years of football weekends with him. In television that’s almost two lifetimes. Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon were together for 31 years — enough said.
“Tom long ago became almost a brother to me. We completed each other’s sentences, listened to the same music, laughed together and sometimes cried together. Oh yes, we enjoyed football together. What was a day with Tom Jackson like? Like the Temptations sang, ‘I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.’ ”
Added longtime NFL reporter and analyst Chris Mortensen: “While we are going to miss Tom Jackson the colleague, nothing shakes the legacy he is leaving. He has been the greatest voice of reason in our medium. I am sad, but I am glad that I gained something that will never be lost — a best friend who happens to be the best husband and father I know.”