Our Daily Dread: John Madden — boom! — retired

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Larger than life and a Hall of Famer on many levels, John Madden has decided that he’s finished as an NFL broadcaster and will throw no one under his bus as he retires to his Northern California home to enjoy the fact he no longer has to travel.

Madden’s last game in a broadcast career that began in 1979 was last February’s Steelers-Cardinals Super Bowl — his 11th Super Bowl behind the mike.

Dan Patrick, an NBC “Football Night in America” studio host, announced the news on his syndicated radio show this morning, adding that Cris Collinsworth has been the groomed candidate to step in with Al Michaels on the NBC “Sunday Night” games for the 2009 season. CNBC also reported the news this morning.

We’re still waiting for ESPN to “confirm” it.

An NBC press release added these comments from Madden, which were actual quotes that NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol transcribed from a conversation with him in person on Tuesday:

“It’s time. 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…

“It’s been such a great ride… the NFL has been my life for more than 40 years, it has been my passion – it still is. I appreciate all of the people who are and were such an important part of the most enjoyable, most fun anyone could have… that great life with the teams, the players, the coaches, the owners, the League… my broadcasting partners Pat and Al… the production people and the fans…is still great… it’s still fun and that’s what it makes it hard and that’s why it took me a few months to make a decision.

“I still love every part of it – the travel, the practices, the game film, the games, seeing old friends and meeting new people… but I know this is the right time.”

For those who want to hear it straight from Madden, he’s hosting his “Daily Madden” radio show for KCBS in the Bay Area at 8:15 a.m. and can be accessed at http://www.kcbs.com/pages/295323.php.

“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,” said NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol. “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.

“To put any speculation to rest, John has just decided to retire because it’s time – nothing more, nothing less. We will never see or hear another man like John Madden. We will sorely miss him because he was the most fun guy ever to just hang out with.”

Madden, who six days ago turned 73, started as a broadcaster with CBS, paired first with Bob Costas on a practice game from the L.A. Coliseum before he was teammed up with Vin Scully, in 1979. Two years later, he was partnered with Pat Summerall , and they networked their way to Fox’s NFL coverage when the network took over the NFC package in 1995, and then worked for ABC on “Monday Night Football” (2002-2004) and NBC on the Sunday night games.

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But there are legions of kids who know him only for helping them learn the nuances of the sport from playing his EA Sports-endorsed video games. The same kids are completely oblivious to the fact that Madden also played for the Philadelphia Eagles (1958) and coached the Oakland Raiders (1967-78, the last 10 of those years as the head coach, with a 103-32-7 record and a Hall of Fame induction).

Boom. Like that, he’s bussing into the sunset.

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