How John Madden explained his broadcasting retirement on his KCBS-AM radio show in the Bay Area today:
Why he’s doing it: “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.
“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.
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.”
On speculation something could be 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.”
On the difficult decision: “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.”
On how this compared to retiring from the Raiders as a head coach: “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.
On whether he could do just of the ’09 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.”
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.”
On his grandkids: “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.”
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.”