If Dan Dierdorf could beam himself into the press boxes of NFL stadiums around the country, he might keep calling games a few more decades.
But with two artificial knees, two artificial hips and a bad back, the travel required by his analyst job for CBS just became too much.
The 64-year-old Hall of Famer announced Wednesday he would retire after this season — his 43rd straight involved with the NFL.
Dierdorf played offensive line for the Cardinals from 1971-83, earning All-Pro honors six times. He then headed straight for the broadcast booth. His three decades as an analyst marked the longest current tenure on TV.
”I’ve just never done anything else in the fall other than be in an NFL stadium,” Dierdorf said in a phone interview.
Now he hopes to spend some time in a college football stadium. Dierdorf estimates that in those 43 years, he’s attended just five games played by his alma mater, Michigan.
”I want to go tailgate with some of my old buddies,” he said.
All those years of practicing on artificial turf in St. Louis wore down his joints, and walking through airports got harder and harder. Using a cane, he’d have to sit down every 100 feet.
Dierdorf said he still feels mentally sharp, a serious concern among retired NFL players. In some ways, the physical limitations made the decision easy; he really had no choice.
Dierdorf considered retiring after last season. The hardest part was ”breaking up” with play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel and their production team, he said with a chuckle.
Making the announcement now will allow Dierdorf to thank all the team personnel who helped him over the years as he calls his final few games. This Sunday, he’ll work Jets-Ravens in Baltimore.
He still may do some broadcast work in St. Louis or radio that doesn’t require much travel.
Dierdorf was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 2008, he was recognized with the hall’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Frank Gifford, John Madden and Len Dawson are the only others to receive both honors.
Dierdorf spent 12 years on ABC’s ”Monday Night Football” before rejoining CBS in 1999.
His most memorable moment is the 1994 Monday night game between John Elway’s Denver Broncos and Joe Montana’s Kansas City Chiefs, when Montana led a last-minute comeback in his final season.
But January’s AFC divisional round playoff game, when the Ravens stunned the Broncos in two overtimes after tying the score on a 70-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of regulation, came close.