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ESPN’s Tom Jackson to Retire After 29 Years

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2015 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award Recipient to Make Final ESPN Appearance at Pro Football Hall of Fame This Weekend

Photos via ESPN Images

ESPN Front Row Tribute

NFL analyst Tom Jackson has made the decision to retire from broadcasting, concluding a remarkable 29-year career at ESPN. A Hall of Fame broadcaster, Jackson joined the company in 1987 as one of ESPN’s first NFL analysts following an outstanding 14-year playing career with the Denver Broncos. He will work his final assignment this week (Aug. 6-7) at Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend in Canton, Ohio.

“I have been blessed in my adult life to work for two companies, the Denver Broncos and ESPN, to do two things that I love – play football and talk about football,” said Jackson.

He added: “Having joined in the early stages of ESPN and remained with the same company for 29 years is especially gratifying. The friendships made are too numerous to mention but I know that many of them will last a lifetime. I also want to thank all the fans who supported me over the years and made my job so enjoyable. This move just comes at a time when the priority of my life is spending time with my family.”

Jackson has been a mainstay on ESPN’s NFL programs alongside Chris Berman for nearly three decades. Together, they became one of sports television’s longest-running and most-beloved duos. Jackson joined ESPN’s newly formed Sunday NFL Countdown pregame show (then NFL GameDay) in 1987. That same year, he and Berman also became partners on NFL PrimeTime. Spanning 19 years (1987-2005) on Sunday nights, PrimeTime was the preeminent NFL highlights show and the highest-rated studio program on cable television.

In addition to Sundays, Jackson has been part of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown pregame show, as well as the company’s year-round NFL coverage of major events, including the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NFL Draft and Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend. He was also part of ABC’s Super Bowl XL pre-game show in 2006. One of the industry’s most respected analysts, Jackson has been a strong voice on football topics and on broader social issues that often intersect with sports.

ESPN President John Skipper said: “Tom has been an integral part of ESPN’s presentation of the NFL for three decades.  His partnership with Chris Berman has been a signature for us and a treasure for fans.  His influence as a trusted voice and mentor for the generation of players who followed him is an important part of his legacy.  Tom is as widely respected internally as anyone in our company, not to mention beloved.  He has been a pleasure to work with and he will always be an ESPN family member.”

In 2015, Jackson was honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the distinguished Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football. He earned a Sports Emmy award as Outstanding Studio Analyst in 2009 and the Best Sports Analyst Cable Ace in 1996. He also helped Sunday NFL Countdown earn seven Sports Emmy awards for Outstanding Weekly Studio Show.

Jackson played his entire NFL career with the Denver Broncos, appearing in three Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls as a linebacker in the team’s famed “Orange Crush” defense. In 1992, he was inducted into the Broncos’ Ring of Fame.

ESPN’s Chris Berman on his longtime partner and friend Tom Jackson:

“Every day working with Tom was a treasure. I know every day he appeared on ESPN was a treasure for football fans. His knowledge, his passion, his insight, and his overall joie de vivre makes him special – in fact, makes him unique. I was lucky to spend 29 years of football weekends with him. In television that’s almost two lifetimes. Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon were together for 31 years – enough said.

“Tom long ago became almost a brother to me. We completed each other’s sentences, listened to the same music, laughed together and sometimes cried together. Oh yes, we enjoyed football together. What was a day with Tom Jackson like? Like the Temptations sang, ‘I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day’.” 

ESPN executives and co-workers share their thoughts on Tom Jackson’s illustrious career:

“Tom set the bar that all NFL analysts should strive to meet. His opinion and analysis made us smarter for 29 years. As good as he is in front of the camera, he is an even better person off camera. He is the kindest and most generous co-worker you could ever want.”

Stephanie Druley, Senior Vice President, Event and Studio Production, who worked with Jackson on Sunday NFL Countdown for more than a decade as the show’s senior coordinating producer and coordinating producer

“What has always stood out to me about Tom is his meticulous preparation. I have never seen anyone dedicate the time and effort into preparing for every segment of every show the way he does. He was also the first NFL analyst to really bring a social consciousness to pregame shows. NFL Sundays just won’t be the same without him.”

Seth Markman, ESPN senior coordinating producer of NFL studio shows

“While we are going to miss Tom Jackson the colleague, nothing shakes the legacy he is leaving. He has been the greatest voice of reason in our medium. I am sad but I am glad that I gained something that will never be lost – a best friend who happens to be the best husband and father I know.”

Chris Mortensen, ESPN senior NFL analyst, who has worked with Jackson since 1991

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