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SPORTS WORLD TAKES STOCK OF COSELL -- "AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL"
Published April 24, 1995
Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell died yesterday at the age of 77. He is remembered this morning -- both fondly and otherwise -- by former colleagues, contemporaries and media critics. A sampling of quotes follows: FORMER ABC SPORTS PRESIDENT ROONE ARLEDGE: "When Monday Night Football started, I used to come into my office and literally there were boxes of mail from people saying get that guy off" ("Sunday Sports Day," ESPN, 4/23). More from Arledge: "His greatest contribution was elevating sports reporting out of daily play-by-play and placing it in the larger context of society" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/24). ABC SPORTS SENIOR VP DENNIS LEWIN: "He made people listen, he made people think, he made people watch" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/24). MUHAMMAD ALI: "I have been interviewed by many people, but I enjoyed interviews with Howard the best. We always put on a good show" (Mult., 4/24). NBC SPORTS PRESIDENT DICK EBERSOL: "The great sadness is that he was a major figure -- he created sports journalism -- but his bitterness cut him off from people at a time when the whole world would have been predisposed to honor him" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/24). DICK SCHAAP: "Howard did not create Muhammad Ali, he did not create Monday Night Football, he did not create sports on television, but he certainly did a great deal to shape all of those things" ("Sunday SportsDay," ESPN, 4/23). SITV'S TED SHAKER: "Kicking and screaming, he dragged the industry into responsibility for what was said on the air and for telling the whole story. He upped the ante, he offered the journalistic high-water mark for the industry. That's his legacy, and it was damned important" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 4/24). NBC'S BOB COSTAS: "In Cosell's best moments, he was a truly remarkable broadcaster who had a lasting impact on his profession. ... Other aspects of the man and the broadcaster might be appropriately discussed at another time" (USA TODAY, 4/24). RAIDERS OWNER AL DAVIS: "I don't think that anyone can question that he was the most dominant sportscaster of our time" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/23). ESPN'S PETER GAMMONS: "The one thing he really taught all of us, and especially people of my generation, is to ask not what the establishment wants us to ask, but what our audience, the people who pay our paychecks, want us to ask" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 4/23). NEW YORK NEWSDAY'S MIKE LUPICA: "If he became a mean- spirited caricature at the end, there was a lot of good already in the books. At a time when so many sports broadcasters are afraid of offending someone with an opinion, when success seems to be measured by some one-liner quoted in a television column, Cosell was better than that, even when he was wrong" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 4/24). N.Y. POST'S PHIL MUSHNICK: "I'll remember him not as a great man in sportscasting, but as a big name in sportscasting" (N.Y. POST, 4/24). NEW YORK DAILY NEWS' BOB RAISSMAN writes Cosell's later bitterness "prevented him from taking his place as elder statesman of sports television" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/24). NEW YORK TIMES' RICHARD SANDOMIR: "There was a uniqueness about Cosell that prevents another like him" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/24). USA TODAY'S RUDY MARTZKE: "This is a time to remember Cosell the legend. His idiosyncrasies that temporarily annoyed us now are tiny" (USA TODAY, 4/24). L.A. TIMES' MIKE DOWNEY: "He was a know-it-all and tell-it- all. But it was what separated him from every other cookie that came out of sports broadcasting's cutter" (L.A. TIMES, 4/24). CHICAGO TRIBUNE'S STEVE NIDETZ: "Love him or hate him -- and millions did either -- Cosell attracted audiences to TV sports events like no one else before or since. His was a riveting presence" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/24). BALTIMORE SUN'S MILTON KENT: "The most influential sportscaster ever to sit behind a microphone" (Baltimore SUN, 4/24). ATLANTA CONSTITUTION'S STEVE HUMMER: "If there is one obituary that should not be sanitized, it is Cosell's. In his business, though, who out there now even is close to doing what Cosell did?" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/24). WASHINGTON POST'S TONY KORNHEISER: "Cosell was something unique to TV sports -- a serious intelligent man with moral principles" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/24). TORONTO SUN'S ROB LONGLEY: "Cosell changed the rules and will forever be remembered for revolutionizing his business" (TORONTO SUN, 4/24). BOSTON GLOBE'S JACK CRAIG: "No one again is apt to combine his talent and chutzpah, have a platform that a network no longer offers and have the support of a giant like Roone Arledge" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/24).