Editorial: 'It's football time' no more

Apr. 09, 2014 @ 11:41 PM

A day after the UConn women’s basketball team passed the Lady Vols for all-time basketball national championships another, even more saddening event transpired.

Longtime voice of Neyland Stadium Bobby Denton died after a short illness.

Denton, widely known for his call that “It’s football time in Tennessee,” had been the public address announcer for Vols football team for nearly half a century.

His announcement usually sent chills down the spine of dyed in the wool Tennessee fans, and sent the crowd into a frenzy.

“People go absolutely nuts,” Denton said in a 2009 article by Janet Testerman and Zac Ellis of Knoxville Magazine (published at knoxville.com). “It’s the one thing people look forward to when I open the mic.”

Denton’s unique declarations and idiosyncratic phrases, such as fans should “pay these prices and please pay no more” at the Neyland consession stands, made him a legend with Vols fans and endeared him to the Knoxville-area public at large.

A graduate of Knoxville’s East High, Denton started his professional career almost by accident.

Denton was attending a race at the Maryville drag strip when the regular race announcer didn’t show, according to the ’09 article on Knoxville.com. Pressed into action, Denton never turned back and announced races, including NASCAR events, for years.

Eventually he settled into radio work, where he made his career as VP and general manager of WIVK radio in Knoxville.

Despite his success in that regard, for most fans of Tennessee, Bobby Denton will be remembered for his memorable pronouncement over the stadium PA that it was time for the Volunteers to take the field.

A man who struggled with alcohol through parts of his life, Denton reportedly had beaten the problems in recent years after an intervention from his wife, Shannon. He credited the recovery to a 12-step program and getting “reconnected with my higher power,” he told Knoxville.com. “It’s the single best thing I’ve ever done.”

With that in mind, perhaps Knoxville radio personality Jeff Jacoby put it best in a Wednesday morning Facebook post, saying with Denton’s passing, “It’s Football Time In Heaven.”