Larry Munson Retires: The End of an Era at Georgia

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Larry Munson Retires: The End of an Era at Georgia

It is as if it had been written in some barely decipherable backwards message on an old record.  All I can think about is a single repeating phrase: "Miss him, miss him, miss him."

Tonight Larry Munson announced his retirement.  

This really shouldn't be that surprising to Dawg fans.  Munson is 86.  He's called nearly every down of the Dawgs for 43 years.  He had blood clots in his brain earlier this year and spent most of the spring and summer at the Sheppard Center in Atlanta rehabbing from the surgery to remove them.

Before that, his back problems and arthritis had already slowed him down to calling only the home games.  

There is a blessing in being able to prepare for a day like today.  Get all your mental ducks in a row.  Accept the fact that he will one day be gone.  Cherish the time he was here and purchase every last DVD that in some way involves him.

Those of us who are REALLY dedicated try to rip Bellamy-Strickland Ford commercials from podcasts of our local radio stations.  Everything just sounds better with Munson.

I only got to meet him once.  I was 11.  His status as a Falcons announcer landed him a gig as a celebrity endorser for Hooters along with Jeff Van Note, and my sister was working at a store that was about to open at Gwinnett Place.

They had a day of practice runs where employee families got to try the food out.  Van Note and Munson were there.  This is still one of my favorite memories.  

That was 17 years ago.  They've gone by in a blink.

Later, while working at an advertising agency that focused on endorsement radio, he was our Atlanta market endorser for Johnsonville Brats.  This particular agency let the endorsers say whatever they liked as long as it was off the cuff, lasted at least 58 seconds, and that they mentioned certain specific things.

One of Johnsonville's specific things was a mention of the aroma of their brats cooking on the grill.  Larry dutifully mentioned it.  I heard it on the air, walked into my bosses' office, and informed them that he shouldn't be made to say that as he has no sense of smell and that anyone who was a real fan of his would know that.  

I got laughed out of the office.  This was probably for the best as he was getting paid pretty well to talk about sausage for 60 seconds a week.  The alternative was probably that they simply found another endorser.

I became enamored with his gravelly voice early in life.  No one could talk like him.  No one could pull the action and emotion straight from the hearts and eyes of the players on the field and paint a perfect picture in your imagination.

Journalistic neutrality be darned!  You knew without a doubt who he was rooting for.  

I was too young to hear the famous Lindsay Scott play live.  The same goes for Herschel Walker running over people.

The definitive Larry Munson call for me was the Hobnail Boot call vs. Tennessee.  I was up at MTSU playing rugby for UGA.  I think we had 14 people show up for a game that requires 15 people a side.  We got our heads handed to us.

Traveling back to Manchester, TN, I somehow picked up a station out of Chattanooga and listened to that drive downfield.  I heard the Dawgs step on Tennessee's face with a hobnail boot, and I could hear the cartilage crush and blood bubbles gurgle.  The sheer insanity of it all, wrapped in the ecstasy of an SEC road victory.

How I didn't die in a fiery car crash is beyond me.

His personality was unmatched, both in the broadcast booth and out of it.  He seemed to live in a world most that even most college kids dreamed about: rubbing elbows with the Bulldogs, going to the movies with his gaggle of female admirers, being the voice of Uga in documentaries.  What's not to like?

Even at his roast, which took place a couple of years back, the qualities that the roasters tried to use to insult him only endeared him more to many of his fans.  Find Belinda Skelton's account of the first thing he ever said to her while working at WSB-AM 750 in Atlanta to see what I mean.  He definitely had a little bit of Ron Burgundy in there.

It looks like he's given the Bulldog Nation literally everything he has to give.  If anyone has earned the right to spend their remaining time on the lake, it's him.   I pray the time he has left will be full of joy and that he may know the happiness of the magnitude that he selflessly bestowed upon all of his fans.

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