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
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
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
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,
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.
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,
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).