Saturday, July 30, 2011

Induct Howard Cosell into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Remember the trio that turned
ABC "Monday Night Football"
into a mainstream phenomenon?

Monday Night Football Broadcast Team
Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford
          Howard Cosell turned Monday Night Football into a mainstream event that is now part of American pop culture by venturing where few others in the sports media had the courage to go.  Cosell entertained his audience as part linguist and part word-smith with a distinctive staccato delivery that infused even the most mundane event with high drama.  People with courage and bravado to speak out on issues as Cosell did, invariably pay a price for their courage.   Howard Cosell was more than a reporter, he was a purveyor of truth, unafraid to offend those who would take offense.  Cosell had such courage whether its was a discussion of athletes of color in sports, free-agency, illegal drugs in sports, anti-trust laws, player strikes, owners unjustly moving teams, increasing fan violence, or parity in the NFL.  Cosell was an advocate of the fans, and despite pressures from a powerful NFL hierarchy, Cosell maintained his social sense of purpose, and his conservative belief in basic American rights, such as due process and freedom of speech.  One of his most famous and enduring catchphrases was, "I'm just telling it like it is."  Seriously, were people expecting anything less?  He was after all, the one and only - Howard Cosell, an iconic legend of sports-broadcasting and sports-journalism. 

Football might not be what it is today without Howard Cosell

          Cosell became instantly recognizable and was an iconic combination of pioneering sports journalist, color commentator and broadcast legend.  True sports enthusiasts remember Howard Cosell for many different reasons.  To some Cosell is remembered for his notable commentary reporting directly from the Olympic Village in Munich during the "Black September" murders in 1972, for others it was covering Muhammad Ali and the world of boxing at large, and still others for Cosell's interviewing John Lennon of the Beatles during a MNF game on December 9th, 1974, and almost exactly six years later, sadly announcing Lennon's death during another MNF game on December 8th, 1980.    The exciting manner with which Cosell delivered his weekly "Halftime Highlights" recap of Sunday's games from the day before is still viewed with reverence in the sports broadcasting industry today.  Hollywood actors and actresses, governors, and Presidents would seek out Cosell in the ABC broadcast booth just for an interview.   Who else but Cosell had interviews with the great NFL players and coaches like Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Fran Tarkenton, Franco Harris, O.J. Simpson, Don Shula, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and many others. 

          How can the Pro Football Hall of Fame write the history of the achievements and contributors of NFL without mentioning the true dean of sports-journalism,  Howard Cosell.  Howard Cosell was just as good at creating an audience as he was at alienating it, and that was just what sports needed.  It's time for the late Howard Cosell to receive proper recognition in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in return for his contributions to the game of professional football.

"Howard Cosell was Monday Night Football.  Without Howard Cosell, there was no Monday Night Football."  - Chet Forte

Lets get one of these in Canton, Ohio

Howard Cosell was inarguably the "soul" of Monday Night Football.  Huge TV contracts generated huge profits with advertisers, players salaries escalated, as did profits for the team owners as well as for the cites they hosted teams in, and the television rights to broadcast National Football League (NFL) games are now the most lucrative and expensive rights of any American sport.

Chris Berman - ESPN Classic

Chet Forte - Director, ABC Monday Night Football

Recognizing outstanding contributions is part of the Mission Statement of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Howard Cosell fits the Hall of Fame selection criteria perfectly:
Hall of Fame Selection Criteria:
- To honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to professional football
- To educate the public regarding the origin, development and growth of professional football as an important part of American culture
- To promote the positive values of the sport
In the spotlight:

Reviews by sports broadcasting contemporaries:

American Sportscaster Association Hall of Fame (1993)

"When the complete book on sportscasting in the 20th Century is composed, Howard Cosell has earned the longest chapter.  His influence in sportscasting has been profound."
-- Dick Enberg, Sportscaster

"He's a seminal figure not only in sports, but all of television."
-- Dick Ebersol, former president of NBC Sports

"Howard Cosell was Monday Night Football.  Without Howard Cosell, there was no Monday Night Football."
-- Chet Forte, former Director of ABC Monday Night Football

"No one has had a greater impact on sportscasting and television sports journalism."
-- George Steinbrenner, N.Y. Yankees

"Howard Cosell was a colorful guy.  The broadcaster's death is a sad day for sports."
-- Alvin Garrett, Washington Redskins receiver

"Cosell is the franchise. He may also be the most valuable property in American sports.  There's no question that Howard Cosell was the most important sports journalist of our time, and because so much of what he did transcended sports, he was one of the most important journalists... period."
-- Robert Lipsyte, Sports Journalist

"I remember him as someone who was an important journalistic figure, and I think to deny that is to let your prejudices get in the way."
-- Frank Deford, Sportswriter

"Every person working in sports journalism today owes a tremendous debt to Howard Cosell. His greatest contribution was elevating sports reporting out of daily play-by-play and placing it in the larger context of society."
-- Roone Arledge, Monday Night Football Creator

"Howard was a true original.  He rose like a screeching comet and left a trail that no modern broadcaster has ever dared to follow.  There will never be another like him."
-- Steve Sabol, NFL Films

"I found him to be genuine in his compassion. I'll never forget him for that."
-- Daryl Stingley, former New England Patriots reciever

''I used to look at Howard Cosell's 'Halftime Highlights' with reverence...'' 
-- Chris Berman (ESPN)

"...the most important game of my career than any game that I've ever played, and, the reason being was it was Monday Night Football, it was Howard Cosell, it was the Cowboys versus the Redskins."
-- Ken Houston - Washington Redskins, Pro Football Hall of Fame

"I think he'll be seen as the broadcasting pioneer who changed the way people listen to and watch sports"
-- Shelby Whitfield, former ABC Radio Sports Director

"His impact, expressions, acknowledgements, and persona have been staples of athletics and the story telling of the emotional drama that surround the globalization, of sports popularized by his unique and compelling narrative.  Howard Cosell stands as a sports giant and a social and transformative icon."
-- Richard "Dick" Barnett, PhD, former New York Knicks basketball player

 "Howard Cosell was a good man and he lived a good life. I have been interviewed by many people, but I enjoyed interviews with Howard the best. We always put on a good show.  I hope to meet him one day in the hereafter. I can hear Howard now saying, Muhammad, you're not the man you used to be.  I pray that he is in God's hands. I will miss him."
-- Muhammad Ali, Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion

How can the Pro Football Hall of Fame continue to write the history of the NFL without mentioning Howard Cosell? History now has the 'option' on Howard Cosell, and if it casts him properly he will be remembered as one of the most important sports journalists of our time.

Any fan can submit a free-form nomination by 1 September to the Hall of Fame.
Send your nomination for Howard Cosell to:

Selection Committee
Pro Football Hall of Fame
2121 George Halas Dr. NW.
Canton, OH 44708

Arizona                  - Kent Somers, Arizona Republic
Atlanta                   - Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange
Baltimore               - Scott Garceau, WMAR-TV
Buffalo                   - Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News
Carolina                 - Darin Gantt, Rock Hill Herald
Chicago                 - Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune*
Cincinnati              - Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer
Cleveland               - Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Dallas                    - Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News*
Denver                   - Jeff Legwold, Denver Post
Detroit                   - Tom Kowalski, Booth Newspapers
Green Bay             - Cliff Christl, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Houston                 - John McClain, Houston Chronicle*
Indianapolis            - Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star
Jacksonville            - Sam Kouvaris, WJXT-TV
Kansas City           - Bob Gretz,
Miami                    - Edwin Pope, Miami Herald
Minnesota              - Sid Hartman, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
New England          - Ron Borges, Boston Herald*
New Orleans          - Pete Finney, Times-Picayune
NY (Giants)            - Bob Glauber, Newsday
NY (Jets)               - Gary Myers, New York Daily News
Oakland                 - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange
Philadelphia           - Paul Domowitch, Philadelphia Daily News
Pittsburgh              - Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
St. Louis               - Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch*
San Diego             - Nick Canepa, San Diego Union Tribune
San Francisco       - Nancy Gay,
Seattle                  - Mike Sando,
Tampa Bay            - Ira Kaufman, Tampa Tribune
Tennessee             - David Climer, The Tennessean
Washington           - David Elfin, AOL Fanhouse

PFWA   Darryl Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At Large  Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange
At Large  Jarrett Bell, USA Today
At Large  John Clayton, ESPN/ESPN Magazine
At Large  John Czarnecki,*
At Large  Dave Goldberg, AOL Sports/Fanhouse*
At Large  Peter King, Sports Illustrated
At Large  Ira Miller, The Sports Xchange*  
At Large  Len Shapiro, Miami Herald*  
At Large  Vito Stellino, Florida Times Union  
At Large  Jim Trotter, Sports Illustrated  
At Large  Charean Williams, Ft. Worth Star Telegram
* Also serves on the Senior Selection Committee

Fans show their appreciation for Howard Cosell by displaying paper faces of Cosell
during a New England Patriots @ New York Jets game in late December 2005.

"What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular."
(Motivational Howard Cosell quotation) 

Add and view comments here
(anonymous comments are allowed, but may be moderated)

Facebook Link to the Induct Howard Cosell Group Page

Copyright Disclaimer - It is not the intention of the webmaster to violate anyone's copyrights.  Exhaustive Internet and paid newspaper archival research was used to collect the information for this website blog.  The images, videos and soundclips used on this website were obtained from the public domain or submitted to the webmaster for use.  When otherwise unavailable, some items were purchased and then photographic digital images made.  This website is not-for-profit, educational use only and no copyright infringement is intended.  If you are the rightful owner of an image and prefer not to have it used on this website please contact the webmaster using the "Contact" tab. Subject to "Fair Use" limitations as found in section 107 of U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U. S. Code).