Touchdown Tennessee’s John Ward Dies

posted June 21st, 2018 at 11:22 am

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by Josh

Legendary Tennessee Vols play-by-play man John Ward died on Wednesday at the age of 87. As a retirement send-off in 1998, Kenny Chesney recorded and released the single “Touchdown Tennessee.”

He was the iconic ‘Voice of the Vols’ across the state, covering Tennessee Vols basketball for 34 seasons and Tennessee Vols football for 31 seasons. With the program approaching its 20th sports year since his retirement, John Ward died at age 87.

The Vol Network announced Ward’s passing on Wednesday evening. Chris Lowe of ESPN reported that he was battling a lengthy illness.

A star in his own right on Rocky Top, Ward was memorable for his objective play-calling and numerous exciting sayings. Everybody from Memphis to Johnson City could hear his words.

“It’s football time in Tennessee!”

“He’s at the 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5…Give Him Six! Touchdown, Big Orange!”


Ward called basketball games from Ray Mears through Jerry Green. He called football games from Doug Dickey through Phillip Fulmer. And it was only fitting that the final Tennessee Vols football game he called was in 1998.

“5, 4, 3, 2, 1…the national champion, is clad in Big Orange!”

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