Broncos Ring of Famer Tom Jackson leaves legacy at ESPN, too

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Tom Jackson has essentially had two jobs in his adult life. His legions of fans in Denver and the surrounding Rocky Mountain region have loved virtually every minute of both.

Jackson, who is a Denver Broncos Ring of Fame member for his playing career with the team, formally announced his retirement from ESPN on Wednesday after 29 years with the network. Jackson's final assignment for ESPN will be this weekend's Hall of Fame enshrinement.

"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," Jackson said in a statement. "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."

A fourth-round selection out of Louisville in the 1973 NFL draft, Jackson played in 191 games for the Broncos -- starting 177 -- and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He was also a two-time first-team All Pro and played on two Super Bowl teams for the Broncos.

Jackson joined ESPN's newly formed Sunday NFL Countdown pregame show (then NFL GameDay) in 1987, the season after he had retired from the Broncos. He also joined NFL Primetime that same year and was Chris Berman's partner on the highly rated show for 19 seasons.

"Tom has been an integral part of ESPN's presentation of the NFL for three decades," ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement. "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, the Pro Football Hall of Fame awarded Jackson the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for long-time, exceptional contributions in professional football. Jackson also won a Sports Emmy award as Outstanding Studio Analyst in 2009 and the Best Sports Analyst Cable Ace Award in 1996.

"While we are going to miss Tom Jackson the colleague, nothing shakes the legacy he is leaving," ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen said in a statement. "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."