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Originally published April 17, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 17, 2009 at 10:52 AM

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NFL | Iconic broadcaster John Madden retires

John Madden's last game as a football announcer was a thrilling Super Bowl decided in the final seconds. It was the perfect ending to a...

NEW YORK — John Madden's last game as a football announcer was a thrilling Super Bowl decided in the final seconds.

It was the perfect ending to a run as one of sports' most popular broadcasters, now that Madden called it a career Thursday. Yet it didn't fit Madden's style to think about his retirement that way.

"I'm a grinder," he said on his Bay Area radio show. "You just grind and get through it and when it's all over, you think about it. You don't rush into any decisions."

Madden's exuberance for football and blue-collar persona endeared him to TV viewers for three decades. Boom! As sudden as his signature call, he's leaving midway through a six-year contract with NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

"I think his work ethic and passion and love for the game made him apart from everybody else," said longtime broadcast partner Pat Summerall.

Madden said his health is fine, but at the age of 73 he wanted to spend more time with his family. His 50th wedding anniversary is this fall, and his five grandchildren are old enough to notice when he's gone.

"The thing that made it hard is not because I'm second guessing: 'Is it the right decision?' But I enjoyed it so damn much," Madden said. "I enjoyed the game and the players and the coaches and the film and the travel and everything."

Cris Collinsworth will replace Madden, moving over from the network's studio show. Collinsworth filled in when Madden took a game off last October.

Madden will stay busy with his many endorsements. His "Madden NFL Football" is the top-selling sports video game of all time.

Still, he noted this will be his first season away from the sport since he was a freshman in high school.

Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He began his pro career as a linebacker coach at Oakland in 1967 and was made head coach two years later, at 33 the youngest coach in what was then the American Football League.

Madden led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory and retired in 1979. He joined CBS later that year.

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He worked at CBS until 1994 when the network lost rights to broadcast NFL games, leading him to switch to Fox. He left Fox in 2002 to become the lead analyst for ABC's "Monday Night Football" and joined NBC in 2006 when that network inaugurated a prime-time Sunday game.

Madden won 16 Emmy Awards and became one of the most recognizable voices in television, mixing high-volume enthusiasm with serious analysis on the telestrator.

Notes

• Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney remains confident defensive end Julius Peppers will return to the team next season, even as he's made public his wishes to play elsewhere. The Panthers placed the franchise tag on Peppers. He has not signed the one-year tender for $16.7 million and has said he won't sign a long-term deal with Carolina.

• The San Francisco 49ers extended the contracts of linebacker Parys Haralson and kicker Joe Nedney after strong seasons by both players. Haralson received a four-year extension through 2013, and Nedney agreed to a two-year extension through 2011.

• Backup quarterback Charlie Batch returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers by signing an $895,000, one-year contract that includes a $50,000 signing bonus.

• The Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to terms with restricted free-agent linebacker Brandon Johnson.

• The Detroit Lions have signed free agents Ronald Curry, a wide receiver, and fullback Terrelle Smith to one-year contracts.

• Saints owner Tom Benson intends to buy a high-rise office tower next to the Louisiana Superdome, and the state has pledged to lease much of the building back as an incentive for Benson to keep his NFL club in New Orleans long term, a state senator said.

• Former NFL running back Travis Henry pleaded guilty in Billings, Mont., to trafficking cocaine in a federal drug case that could land him in prison for 10 years or more.

• Suspended NFL star Michael Vick has returned to a federal prison in Kansas after a stint in Virginia for his bankruptcy case.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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