When Jim Irwin made the call as the clock wound down to zero at the end of Super Bowl XXXI, Packers fans were ecstatic.
“World champions, Green. Bay. Packers.” That was Irwin’s call – one he had waited decades to make and one that was well deserved.
That’s what came to mind today when I heard that Irwin had died from cancer.
How many times did we listen to Irwin through the years – probably more than we realized. If we listened to the Badgers, Packers, Bucks and even sometimes the Brewers, you heard his golden voice calling the plays, describing the game like none other.
More after the jump.
When he teamed with the legendary Max McGee in the 80s and 90s, culminating with the Packers back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in the mid- to late-90s, it was magic over the airwaves.
How many times did you turn down the television volume and crank the radio for the Packers games so you could listen to Irwin and McGee? Probably more times than you could count. Those were the good ol’ days when radio and football were as good as peanut butter and jelly.
Though Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren are building their own legions of followers, they still have a ways to go to come close to matching the catalog of work put together by Irwin.
Then again, there may not be anyone who comes close to his body of work.
In all, he called 612 consecutive Packers games, including preseason and playoff games, much of it as the primary radio man for WTMJ Radio.
He wasn’t just the voice of the Packers, he was part of the fabric of the team.
Irwin conjures a simpler time in America’s history when radio played a much larger role in people’s lives. He thrived in a medium that has been overtaken by the dominance of television, the Internet and video. But one suspects that if he were alive today and still calling Wisconsin sports teams’ games, he would be as popular as ever.
Like Ray Scott before him and the team of Larivee and McCarren after, he is a huge part of the Green Bay Packers story. A part that is now gone, but not forgotten.
RIP Jim Irwin.