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Get the picture: Larry Munson retires
In this 2002 file photo, La rry Munson , the play-by play announcer for the Georgia Bulldogs, sits at Sanford Stadium. The 85-year-old Munson on Monday, Sept. 22, 2008 announced that he has retired, effective immediately. He said he owes Georgia fans "so much more than I can give."

ATHENS -- Larry Munson ended 43 years as the radio play-by-play voice for Georgia football games when he said Monday he has called his last game.

The 85-year-old Munson underwent surgery April 4 to remove blood clots from his brain, but he returned to work Georgia's first two home games.

He said he won't be in the booth for Saturday's game against Alabama.

"It caught me by great surprise," Loran Smith, Munson's longtime sideline reporter and host of Georgia's pregame show, said of the announcement.

"I had thought that his voice for the first couple of games was a little weaker than usual," Smith said.

Munson, who began working only on home games last season, was on the pregame show by phone before Saturday night's game at Arizona State.

"He sounded stronger than ever," Smith said. "I just thought he was getting stronger and would be his old self.

"I thought with the excitement of a game like Alabama he would be back to his old heroics."

The timing of the retirement was a surprise, since the game between No. 3 Georgia and No. 8 Alabama will attract much attention. Munson's 86th birthday is Sunday.

"I would guess from his standpoint he's looking at the stress and pressure," Smith said. "Maybe he's thinking he wants to be very careful."

The Alabama game is a landmark for the Georgia radio team for the second straight year. Last season's game at Alabama was the first road game that Munson missed.

Munson was in his 43rd season as Georgia's lead voice on its radio network.

"I can't express enough my deep feelings toward the Georgia football fans," Munson said in a statement released by Georgia.

"They have been so friendly, especially during this most recent period of time. I feel I owe them so much more than I can give. I'll remember all the great times with the Dogs and have the fondest wishes and good luck toward them all."

Scott Howard, who has been in the booth with Munson for 15 years and took over the play-by-play duty for road games last season, will work with analyst Eric Zeier, the former Georgia quarterback, for the remaining games this season.

"They're prepared," said Smith, who added, "I guess I'm the senior guy now, aren't I?"

Smith said Munson will be missed "because he was such an icon and such a sensation.

"I think if he can't do it we've got as good as you want in Scott Howard. He just has such a fine command of the game. Eric adds a new dimension and has a feel for the field that you want. His analysis is very, very good because he's a former quarterback."

Georgia coach Mark Richt called Munson "one of the legendary college football broadcasters of all time."

"What do you say when a legend steps down?" Richt asked. "I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to be associated with him.

"I hope he enjoys his full retirement and wish him the very best in all the things he decides to do."

Munson's retirement was a surprise to Georgia players, too.

"Being a Georgia fan, I grew up hearing his calls," tight end Tripp Chandler said. "My parents have the recording of his call of my first touchdown. He will be missed."


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