John Madden preparing to retire

9:48 AM PST 04/16/2009 by James Hibberd, AP

NFL broadcaster has won 18 Emmys

Veteran football broadcaster John Madden, the longtime face and voice of NFL football coverage, is retiring.

"It's time," Madden said in a statement. "I'm 73 years old. My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and my five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I'm home and, more importantly, when I'm not."

During the course of a 30-year career, the former Oakland Raiders coach has served as an analyst on all four the four major broadcast networks, winning 18 Emmy Awards. He most recently called the games for NBC on "Sunday Night Football," where he's worked since 2006.

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said Cris Collinsworth has been named Madden's successor in the NBC broadcast booth and sought to reassure fans that the decision was entirely up to Madden. Ebersol said Madden turned down an offer to work fewer games next season.

"I spent all day in the Bay Area yesterday with John and tried every way I could to make sure he was sure about his decision," Ebersol said. "And in true John Madden fashion, he was sure. He said it best when he simply said, 'It's time' ... and I admire him for that. We will sorely miss him because he was the most fun guy ever to just hang out with."

ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer was also effusive.

"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," Bodenheimer said. "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."

Madden's legacy extended to younger generations of football fans thanks to his enormously popular "Madden NFL Football," the No. 1 selling sports video game of all-time.

The final game Madden called was the nail-biting Super Bowl XLIII on NBC, the 11th NFL title game he called.

"I still love every part of it," he said. "The travel (though he famously crosses the country via bus to avoid flying), the practices, the game film, the games, seeing old friends and meeting new people ... but I know this is the right time."
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