I've been delivering these little homilies since 1980 - that's 37 years - and altogether, NPR statisticians tell me, my bloviation total is 1,656 commentaries - and I trust you've hung onto every word.

I'll forever be grateful to NPR that they gave me such extraordinary freedom... It was 37 years of a fond relationship.

Yes, the Masters is too stylish to be an American icon. It's as out of character for Uncle Sam as a McDonald's is for France.

Bill Russell was the pivot on which the whole sport turned.

We start 2016 with a command: that the subject of Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame is over, finis, kaput forever and ever. As sure as we will no longer discuss whether Lindsey Graham or George Pataki can be president.

I don't think there are many kids who sit around and want to be actors. I don't think there are many kids who want to sit around and want to be senators. But so many of us want to be athletes, so we're envious of them, and we put them up on that pedestal.

First and foremost, Howard Cosell is sports. There are all these people, these fans, who claim that when Cosell does a game on television, they turn off the sound on the TV and listen to the radio broadcast. Oh, sure. You probably know critics in your neighborhood who vow the same thing. Well, too bad for them.

Dan Rather pulling on a sweater and thereby winning a whole new chunk of the populace: That's television. President Reagan's press conferences: That's television. Keith Jackson is television. So are Kermit the Frog, instant replay, and the Fiesta Bowl.

I am something of a ham. Yeah, I'd always been a writer. But in high school, I acted in plays. So it wasn't as if you had to drag the words out of my vocal chords.

Majesty is a thing of beauty to behold, whatever the particular enterprise.

There are some books that get huge numbers of positive reviews, but reading them satiates people. They say, 'I've read enough now'.

The year after Russell retired, in the famous seventh game of the NBA Finals at Madison Square Garden, Willis Reed, the New York Knicks center, limped onto the court against the Los Angeles Lakers, inspiring his team and freezing Chamberlain into a benign perplexity.

If you're a father of a child who dies, it's an experience that never leaves you. It scars you forever and ever and ever. And so when I do any kind of story with somebody who's in the same position as my daughter was, there's no question that something comes out of me and embraces that story in a way that only a father who lost a child could.

The Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, and Pistons are there today as sure as they were when what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Would you rather have a basketball team, or would you rather be Detroit?

I never saw war, so that is still my vision of manhood: Unitas standing courageously in the pocket, his left arm flung out in a diagonal to the upper deck, his right cocked for the business of passing, down amidst the mortals. Lock and load.

The Masters is not greedy. You wanna buy a Masters souvenir logo shirt? Sure, let's go over to the nearest Ralph Lauren boutique. Oops, you can only purchase Masters memorabilia at the Masters, this one week of the year.

Several NBA teams got their best gates every season when they scheduled a doubleheader and booked the Globetrotters and their stooges for the opening game.

I can remember going to see the minor league Orioles. Until I was 15 years old, we'd go down with 3,000 people to watch them play the Syracuse Chiefs or the Jersey City Little Giants. That's what passed for Baltimore sports.

I have survived so long because I've been blessed with talented and gracious colleagues and with a top brass who let me choose my topics every week and then allowed me to express opinions that were not always popular. Well, someone had to stand up to the yackety-yak soccer cult.

I had gone to work for 'Newsweek', left 'Newsweek' and went to work for 'Vanity Fair,' and then went back to 'Newsweek'. I came back to 'SI' as a contract writer.

I think, in accepting the amount of money that athletes make, I think that fans accept that now. It's the nature of the beast; that's the way it is, so they understand it. All, I think, fans have changed - because the price of tickets has gone up so much - that they feel a certain sense of entitlement when they go to a game.

When I was covering games, and this is back in the '60s, you'd go into the manager's office. I can still visualize Earl Weaver from the Baltimore Orioles. I can just see Earl now in his underwear... with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, holding court. And that was the way it was done then.

It's interesting too, that the coach of that Georgia Tech team who led his valiant warriors to those 222 points was none other than John Heisman. Yes, he whom the Heisman trophy is named for, an award that honors that college player who best exemplifies excellence and integrity.

I remember, when I was growing up in Baltimore, we'd get on a streetcar and go down to see the Orioles, and for a couple of bucks, you could get a pretty good seat. Kids can't do that anymore. So I think that changes the whole nature of sports.

'SI' came to me and said, 'We want you to do a story on Russell as the greatest team player,' which I certainly agreed with.

The NBA Schedule was made up by one man, Eddie Gottlieb, who had owned the Philadelphia Warriors. Eddie had a Buddha-like body and a crinkly smile, and because he had also been an owner in baseball's old Negro leagues, he was known as the Mogul.

ESPN is all meat and potatoes. It's pretty much scouting reports. There isn't a great deal of humor, and when there is, it's pretty sophomoric.

You can stand at a bar and scream all you want about who was the greatest athlete and which was the greatest sports dynasty, and you can shout out your precious statistics, and maybe you're right, and maybe the red-faced guy down the bar - the one with the foam on his beer and the fancy computer rankings - is right, but nobody really knows.

You're writing about young, vibrant people; there are wins and losses. In other words, it's great drama.

The stories that are most unfamiliar, the ones that seem to come out of the blue about people that aren't well known, usually come from producers that have really done a lot of homework and looked around. Other stories come from the correspondents.

Remember when John Roberts was seeking confirmation of the Supreme Court, and he said judges should be just like umpires, just calling balls and strikes? Well, turnabout is fair play. What baseball needs behind the plate are umpires like those judges who are called strict constructionists, which means you follow subtle law to the letter.

The wonderful thing about delivering sports commentary on NPR was that because it has such a broad audience, I was able to reach people who otherwise had little or no interest in sport - especially as an important part of our human culture.

Owners own teams so that they might move them to another municipality with better luxury boxes.

As it happens, Cumberland was on the verge of bankruptcy and had to give up football. But the villainous Heisman made it play a game that had been scheduled when Cumberland still had a team, or Heisman threatened to demand a $3,000 forfeiture fee that could well have put the school out of existence.

Quickness and momentum. You take the whole last generation of sports, listening to them, even reading about them, watching the games, analyzing them, arguing about them, instant-replaying them, second-guessing them, and all you'll distill from them is quickness and momentum.

How did females become 'guys?' How did everyone become 'guys?' Remember, too, that a male guy was something of a scoundrel. And a wise guy was a fresh kid, a whippersnapper. In its most other famous evocation, men in Brooklyn said 'youse guys.' Damon Runyon referred to hustlers, gamblers, and other nefarious types as guys.

There were a lot of places, including Los Angeles, that didn't have major league baseball. There were other really large cities that had no major league teams, but at least they had college football.

It costs a lot of money to deliver newsprint. It's so much easier to do it through the air, Internet, radio, television. The second easiest thing is to do it through the mail. But when you have to take something heavy and put it on someone's doorstep, that costs a lot of money.

I think I would die if I couldn't get to the typewriter every day. I really need that.

Despite the fact that every sport this side of badminton worries about concussions that result in brain damage, CTE, the National Hockey League refuses to accept the overwhelming medical science. Good grief - the NHL still permits fights.

On Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., there are statues of five Confederate luminaries and then, incongruously in this company, one of Arthur Ashe.

Nowadays, of course, flesh peddlers and scouting services identify the best athletes when they are still in junior high. Prospects are not allowed to sneak up on us.

In the television era, the second week of the Olympics is reserved for what is considered the marquee event: track and field.

NPR allowed me to treat sports seriously, as another branch on the tree of culture.

The Cowboys were never America's team any more than Anthony Weiner was America's congressman.

It's almost impossible to explain how little the NBA amounted to when I started covering it in 1963. It wasn't fair to call it bush, although everybody did. It was simply small - only nine teams - and insignificant.

Since too few Americans go to the polls, I say what this country needs is a bobblehead election, where voters will get free bobblehead dolls of their choice when they show up and vote for president.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for abiding me. And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I bid you goodbye and take my leave.

I think every time I can find a story that touches that human nerve, and even sometimes makes you cry, I think that I've found something that I'll like very much.