We'll just have to hunker down

Larry Munson founded Georgia in 1733, built the Capitol singlehandedly over a free weekend and used his carving skills to create Stone Mountain.

Well, that's the way it seems, anyway. He may be a Minnesota transplant, but the legendary University of Georgia Bulldogs broadcaster hung the moon in these parts. He may be the most loved Georgian of his day.

After some 43 seasons of fiercely loyal accounts of Bulldog football, some of which are burned into the state's collective memory, it would seem impossible to imagine Georgia football without him.

We have no choice now. After cutting back to home games last year and gamely having a go at the first two this year, the soon-to-be 86-year-old Munson announced unceremoniously Monday that he is retiring due to health problems.

We -- he -- didn't even have a chance to say goodbye.

Larry Munson wasn't just a legend here. He's a giant in sports broadcasting, earning the coveted Chris Schenkel Award in 2003.

But you have to be a Georgian to really appreciate the width and breadth of the relationship between Larry Munson and the people of this state. The face of the state changes from year to year, but the voice has remained the same since 1966: It's Larry Munson.

It's his idiosyncracies, his earthiness, his down-home intimacy, his penchant for talking about the Georgia Bulldogs in the "we" form. He would even exhort the Dawgs to greatness, telling listeners during a critical defensive stand against Auburn in 1982 that the team needed to "hunker down."

After the win, which put Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, he said, "Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!"

And, of course, it's because he's such a great fan. While describing Lindsay Scott's 93-yard touchdown reception against Florida in 1980, he busted his metal seat while chanting "Run Lindsay!"

He didn't pretend to be objective. He didn't pretend to be anything he wasn't. Larry Munson is authentic. And people love him for it.

He thinks he owes us something. "So much more than I can give." Nonsense. It is we who are forever indebted to him. He didn't just report on games. Through his words, his intonations and his heart, he helped make the memories that Georgia fans hold so dear.

"What do you say when a legend steps down?" Georgia coach Mark Richt asks.

Well, you check for tears falling from the sky, you hunker down -- and you say thanks.

And it comes from the bottom of the heart.

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Wed, 02/22/2017 - 23:01

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