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Woody: "I knew it was time"

Woody Durham officially announced his retirement in a press conference at the Dean Dome ending a 40 year career at the "Voice of the Tar Heels." Tar Heel Blue has video of the press conference and WCHL has additional quotes and audio. Inside Carolina has posted a behind the scenes story on Woody they did in 2004. Tar Heel Blue also has Woody's "greatest hits" including the four national title wins in basketball he described to us by saying "the Tar Heels have won the national championship!"

When Woody was asked why he was retiring he simply said he "knew it was time." Much of that had to do with the "level of presentation" which he felt had slipped. When asked what he specifically meant by that, Woody said he was not happy with his accuracy and he was trying to come up with different ways of describing the action instead of using cliches. Unfortunately he found he was unable to deliver the information as quickly. Woody also said he thought about retiring a year ago but thought he could improve with another season but that was not the case.

If you have spent any time listening to Woody over the past few years you have detected some of the accuracy and speed issues. I noticed in some of the games I listened to that his description of plays often lagged a tad behind. It is a credit to the man for knowing he had reached the end of his career and caring enough about the presentation, as he called, to step away. That speaks volumes about Woody that he felt UNC and the fans deserved better than he thought he could still give them. Men with lesser humility or love for the university might have selfishly held on. Not Woody. He knew it was time and it was of his own choosing much the same way as Dean Smith did when he retired.

In many ways this is a bittersweet day. Woody Durham is like a member of the family. His voice was a constant in as many years as I can remember listening to UNC games. I had the radio on when Rick Fox beat Oklahoma and when Chris Webber called timeout despite the fact I was watching it on television. The list of qualities that made Woody special is endless. The sound of his voice and the fanlike nature in which he called the game was timeless. Most rival fans would describe Woody as a homer and to an extent he was but I never thought in an obnoxious way. You had the way he would refer to a player by hometown and class or various Woodyisms that dotted his broadcast. It was not just listening to someone describe the events of the game. It was like listening to close friend or family member do it in a very familiar way.  Plus, Woody was a North Carolina guy, born in the state and a graduate of UNC in 1963. They don't make play-by-play guys like Woody anymore and most likely you won't find a North Carolina native who had such a deep affection for the university.

When the football season rolls around it will be a new guy calling the games and it won't be the same.