John Madden retires

It's not a big deal but it is a big deal: John Madden is retiring.

NBC just made the announcement:

NEW YORK – April 16, 2009 – NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol announced today that John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and the most honored broadcaster in sports television history, has decided to retire from broadcasting.

Madden issued the following statement today:

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 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.

I want to think about this for a while, but consider who in the media might have had a bigger impact in the 30 years that Madden has been doing NFL games on television. I can't think of anybody. He brought this unique style. That style attracted younger people to the game and made him the natural name to be slapped on what is an uber-successful video game. He has been an icon on several levels. And while some of the shtick was tired, Madden's enthusiasm for his work still seemed very real and very much in place.

The only guy who comes close is Dick Vitale, but I think Madden was bigger.