Vol Nation pays tribute to Tennessee legend John Ward
Simply put, Tennessee lost a legend Wednesday night as the Vol Network announced the passing of John Ward at the age of 87.
The voice of a generation of Volunteer fans, Ward called the pinnacle of Tennessee football in the modern era culminating in his final broadcast, the National Championship Game victory over Florida State.
Following his passing, all corners of Vol Nation were quick to react. They include former players, media members, fans and Tennessee’s athletic director and former coach Phillip Fulmer. Tennessee released the following statement from Fulmer following the news:
“Our entire Tennessee family mourns the loss of the great John Ward. The University of Tennessee has lost one of its most beloved ambassadors.
“For generations of Vol fans, John’s voice brought to life many of their fondest memories of Tennessee football and basketball. His visionary thinking paved the way for the Vol Network’s rise to prominence as the standard bearer for intercollegiate athletics marketing and broadcasting.
“Despite our shared sadness, I believe it is appropriate to proudly reflect on and cherish the fact that John was ours. We will ensure that his legacy and memory are appropriately honored in the days, months and years to come.”
Here is a collection of some of the touching tributes paid to Ward on social media following his passing:
It’s a sad day for the Tennessee family. In my short time here, I’ve learned that John Ward was a legend and an irreplaceable part of the tradition here at the University of Tennessee.
— Jeremy Pruitt (@CoachJPruitt) June 21, 2018
1995 Legion Field Play No. 1: RIP John Ward pic.twitter.com/Y0ZQu2uMEk
— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) June 21, 2018
The best there was and ever will be at his craft. We were fortunate to have him. Rest In Peace, Mr. Ward. pic.twitter.com/kDJ3xNkwog
— NewMarketMauler (@NewMarketMauler) June 21, 2018
Godspeed John Ward pic.twitter.com/MuCAMW1epR
— Justin Hanna (@just1hanna) June 21, 2018
I lingered in the locker room after the Fiesta Bowl in 98 because it was John Ward’s final broadcast and I wanted to witness history. John wasn’t just the greatest to ever get behind a microphone; he was the voice of an entire state. May he Rest In Peace. https://t.co/tT1Y5xVWUe
— Brad Lampley (@BALampley79) June 21, 2018
John Ward had a way with words. A prime example of that? When he announced his retirement. pic.twitter.com/8GxTFRqO0b
— Louis Fernandez Jr (@LouisWBIR) June 21, 2018
I remember as a kid hearing John Ward describe a game. I visualized the cheering crowd, the exact color blue of the sky, I could almost smell the cut grass as, "the Vols come racing onto the field."
That, was the gift of the man we lost last evening. Thank you John.
A pro's pro. pic.twitter.com/12FqF5yHLM
— Jeff Jarnigan (@JeffJarnigan) June 21, 2018
I remember when the ABC broadcast of Tennessee’s National Championship win over Florida State cut to John Ward for a series of plays.
The great Keith Jackson and ABC thought it appropriate to give John Ward the focus during his final call…a title game.
He was untouchable.
— Houston Kress (@VolRumorMill) June 21, 2018
As I've said many times, other than my parents, few people inspired me more or touched me more profoundly than John Ward. I thank God that I had a chance to tell him as much in person when I visited with him back in March. He was truly a Tennessee treasure. https://t.co/bc3t4KEtgM
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) June 21, 2018
If Harry Caray, or Vin Scully, or Harry Kalas, or Larry Munson, etc., were the sports voices of your youth, well, that's what John Ward was to Vols fans. A gentleman's gentleman and one of the great college game broadcasters of all time. https://t.co/WDIAHeRUzr
— Gene Wojciechowski (@GenoEspn) June 21, 2018
My first TV reporting gig was a golf story for Big Orange Sunday, Tennessee’s spring sports show. I was a sophomore. John Ward was the host. When he said “For more, here’s Ryan McGee” I could have retired right there. Never did a kinder gentleman grace the booth. #givehimsix pic.twitter.com/bKIBopFJXZ
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) June 21, 2018
Give him 6. RIP John Ward. Legend. https://t.co/J8SfhGz67a
— Jason Witten (@JasonWitten) June 21, 2018
It was an absolute honor to have the Legend and the greatest John Ward call all of my games as a Vol! RIP, you’ll be missed by Volnation! Sad day! #GiveHimSix
— Terry Fair (@UTCoachTFair) June 21, 2018
— Albert Haynesworth (@haynesworthiii) June 21, 2018
Sad day for Vol Nation. Rest in peace John Ward you are the greatest. Always gave me chills. ?
— Trey Teague (@treyteague70) June 21, 2018
RIP to a true Tennessee legend that had such an incredible impact on Tennessee athletics and the lives of so many people. Thank you John Ward for giving your all for Tennessee. #TouchdownOnPlayNumberOne https://t.co/zr6zoFQbkz
— joey kent (@joeykent) June 21, 2018
We lost a legend today. John Ward's spirit will live on forever. The stories from those who worked alongside Mr. Ward about his attention to detail, passion, and vision, gave me goosebumps. Rest In Peace Mr Ward. Thank you. #GiveHimSix #FootballTimeInTennessee. #Vols
— Jayson Swain (@SwainEvent) June 21, 2018