(updated with confirmation at 2:45 p.m.)
Chris Cooley will retire from the NFL and join the Washington Redskins’ radio broadcasts as an analyst. Cooley’s hiring was announced by Red Zebra Broadcasting, the company that owns ESPN 980 (980 AM), the Redskins’ flagship station in Washington. Cooley was signed to a multi-year deal, according to a written announcement.
“To add a talent and fan favorite like Chris to our team will add excitement to our broadcast and a level of unpredictability for our listeners,” Chuck Sapienza, the executive producer of the Redskins Radio Network, said in a written statement.
Cooley, 31, signed his contract Tuesday. He retires after nine seasons with the Redskins. The tight end was released by the team in training camp prior to last season. But the Redskins re-signed Cooley during the season after a season-ending injury suffered by their starter at the position, Fred Davis.
Cooley, one of the most popular players in franchise history, had only one catch in his return. But he said repeatedly that he was happy he returned to the team and enjoyed being part of the Redskins’ run to an NFC East title with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. He said he was in contact with other NFL teams after the Redskins released him in training camp but decided he would play only for the Redskins.
The written announcement said that Cooley will serve as an “in-game contributor” to the radio broadcasts, providing analysis in a “Cooley’s Corner” segment that will be heard every quarter of each game. He will not replace former analyst Sam Huff on the team’s radio broadcasts. Instead, Cooley will provide analysis periodically throughout games. Huff retired this offseason after 38 years on the team’s radio broadcasts. He teamed with fellow analyst Sonny Jurgensen beginning in 1981.
“Chris has shown he has a true knowledge of the intricacies of the game and I look forward to having him share those with our listeners along the Redskins Radio Network,” Rick Carmean, the CEO of Red Zebra, said in a written statement.
Cooley also will appear on Internet and television shows, including Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan’s show on WRC-TV-4, as part of the deal, according to the announcement.
“I’m pumped,” Cooley said in a telephone interview. “This is a great deal for me. I really want this job and I want to do it for a long time.”
Cooley said he would not file his official retirement papers with the NFL immediately, leaving open a slim possibility of a return as a player. But he does not intend to play again, he said.
“That door would be open a crack,” Cooley said. “But do I plan to play? No. I’m not officially retiring, mostly because I’m a procrastinator. But my plans are to be done. I don’t plan to play. I feel pretty fortunate.”
Cooley, barring another comeback, finishes his career with 429 catches for 4,711 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Cooley said he was in contact with other broadcast outlets but wanted to continue his association with the Redskins.
“I had other opportunities,” he said. “I had other offers. This is the only job I wanted. The Redskins have been great to me and this is a perfect situation for me.”