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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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ABC's Jackson calls it a career
By SHARON GINN
Published April 28, 2006
After having a bird's-eye view from the press box for many of the best college football games in history, the last thing Keith Jackson wanted to do was "die in a stadium parking lot," he said in Thursday's New York Times.
So Jackson, 77, is finally retiring for good after nearly 40 years as the voice of college football, even though ABC and ESPN wanted him to return for another season.
"When he expressed to us that he was considering retirement, we repeatedly tried to convince him otherwise, but completely respect his decision," said Norby Williamson, an ESPN/ABC executive vice president, in a statement Thursday. "As it turns out, it's fitting that Keith's final game call was the 2006 Rose Bowl, a historic event where Keith was right where he belonged - as the great narrator, skillfully articulating the drama for a captivated audience."
Jackson, ABC's primary voice of college football since 1967, retired for the first time in 1998. But he was lured back with the promise he would be able to stick close to his West Coast home. Lately it had become too much: Jackson told the New York Times he was feeling his age and no longer wished to do so much traveling.
"I don't want to get back into the pressure cooker of play-by-play and worry about travel," Jackson said in the article. "I don't want to die in a stadium parking lot."
In recent years, Jackson also has been showing his age, often making errors on the air even as he retained his signature charm and his stature as one of the nation's most beloved sportscasters. In his mind there was no better time to stop.
"The people at ABC and ESPN did everything they could to get me to come back," Jackson said in a statement. "But sometimes you know when it is time to hang it up. And I felt it was time. ... I am looking forward to being the shop steward of the international porch-sitter's union this fall."
Jackson's retirement is not the only major change to football . Eras are ending everywhere: Fox has the rights to the Bowl Championship Series, long held by ABC, and Monday Night Football is moving from ABC to cable partner ESPN.
NBC's Sunday night games, meanwhile, will become the NFL's new weekly showcase. The former MNF team of Al Michaels and John Madden will be joined by Andrea Kremer - until recently a key face of ESPN - as sideline and feature reporter. NBC also announced Thursday that Peter King, Sports Illustrated's NFL reporter and managing editor of HBO's Inside the NFL, will join Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth and Jerome Bettis for NBC's pregame studio show.
Noted NFL sideline reporters Armen Keteyian and Bonnie Bernstein have left CBS Sports, with Keteyian heading to the network's news division and Bernstein starting her own consulting business. And Bryant Gumbel will be back in the booth doing play by play for the first time in decades as lead voice of the NFL Network's new eight-game package. While he has never called an NFL game, network officials say they want Gumbel's style to be more "conversational and informational" than the typical broadcast.
For conversational, however, it's hard to imagine anyone better than Jackson, whose charm and down-to-earth manner won viewers over for decades. But now it is time, he said, for "going off like an old man and sitting by the creek."
Before you go, Keith, could you do us a favor? Tell us a little more about that creek.