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It's hard to comprehend not seeing something or someone that has been around for the past 29 years, but that's a task that ESPN viewers will have to grow accustomed to, as it has been announced longtime analyst Tom Jackson will be retiring from the company. I don't know how I'll be able to process my football highlights without Jackson there as the voice of reason.
Unfortunately, Tom Jackson's exit from ESPN will be effective almost immediately, so we won't even get to watch him talking about this year's NFL preseason games. His final ESPN appearance as a regular full-time analyst will be this weekend, August 6 and 7, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canton, Ohio. At least that should be a fun time for him to bow out on.
It was all the way back in 1987 that Tom Jackson first found his place at ESPN, joining the Sunday pregame show NFL GameDay alongside Chris Berman, whom he would share the stage for almost three decades. (And Berman's time at the network may also be limited, so basically everything is a post-apocalyptic hellscape now.) Jackson and Berman were also the faces behind NFL PrimeTime from 1987-2005, and Jackson could also be seen on Monday Night Countdown and a whole host of other football-related programming. One particular highlight was jumping into the Super Bowl XL pregame coverage back in 2006.
And it's pretty obvious why Tom Jackson has been such a respected and well-received analyst over the years. He was also one of the most well-respected men on the field during his 14-year stint as part of the Orange Crush Defense of the Denver Broncos, with whom he went to two Super Bowls, earned three Pro Bowl appearances and was selected as an All-Pro four different times. He was a beast on the field, and that experience showed through when he talked about the sport he loves.
ESPN thankfully offered up a look back at one of Jackson's earliest days on the network, which you can see below.
The babyfaces! The babyfaces! It's great that Jackson didn't end his time with ESPN on a bad note like some others, choosing to retire with grace and humility rather than a blaze of non-glory. Now, if he wants to start telling horror stories about his career in a couple of months, I'll be listening.
So while we're not looking forward to seeing Tom Jackson go, at least we'll get to see him again on TV before that happens. Many happy days of armchair sports ahead of you, good sir.