There’s no discounting the impact that Howard Cosell had on sports television in the 1970′s to the mid-1980′s. Whenever ABC had a big event, Cosell would be similar to what Bob Costas is today. He could give perspective and be called upon to interview the heavy hitters. Granted at the end of his career, Cosell became a bitter man, but when he was in his prime, Cosell was a giant in the business. While many critics were often brutal to Cosell, one cannot diminish his intelligence nor his impact on TV.
So I’ll bring you some interesting clips on Cosell from his career at ABC Sports, then as a columnist for the New York Daily News (that’s right, he became a columnist briefly, but later left).
This clip is from 1973. “Monday Night … Foot-BALL” as Howard would say, the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Miami Dolphins at the old Orange Bowl. Howard does the pregame introducing the storyline for the game, the start of Joe Gilliam at quarterback for Pittsburgh in place of Terry Bradshaw. Note the MNF Open with Frank Gifford, Howard and Dandy Don Meredith.
This is the cold open. A bit different than what you saw in the Pittsburgh-Miami clip.
In 1974, Howard was visited by John Lennon of “The original Beatles!” in the booth of Monday Night Football. Hey, didn’t we complain about celebrities in the booth on MNF during the last two seasons?
Then cut to 1980 during the New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins game, Howard was the one who broke the news that Lennon was shot by John David Chapman. I can’t embed it, but I’ll link you to the clip.
Howard was also known for calling boxing and in 1976 at the Montreal Olympics, Cosell was there to call the Americans harvest of five gold medals in the ring including one by Sugar Ray Leonard over Andres Aldama of Cuba. George Foreman was Howard’s analyst.
But Howard’s best known call was “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” George Foreman’s utter destruction of Joe Frazier in the World Heavyweight Championship in Kingston, Jamaica back in 1973. Cosell’s call was perfect and he was truly in his prime.
To 1981 and Howard hosted a prefight interview with Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, just days before the two men fought their welterweight fight in Las Vegas. First, Howard did a prefight tale of the tape.
And here’s the continuation of the prefight interview with Hearns and Leonard.
A few weeks ago, I did a Videos of the Week feature on “Battle of the Network Stars” which Howard hosted from 1976 until 1985. This is from 1978 and Kevin Dobson of CBS’ “Kojak” battling Larry Wilcox of NBC’s CHiP’s” in the obstacle course. I believe Suzanne Somers is Howard’s “analyst”.
I wish I could find Howard doing ABC’s Monday Night Baseball or him in the World Series from 1977, 1979, 1981 or 1983, but no one seems to have one. If you have a clip, I would like to post it in a future Videos of the Week. E-mail me if you know where to find it or if you have one. It would be great just to hear Howard’s voice talk about Pete Rose or Reggie Jackson.
Now let’s go to a commercial from 1986, one year removed from Cosell leaving ABC Sports, this is Howard and Mike Lupica hyping the New York Daily News. Notice Lupica typing on the keyboard, but Cosell is not. Even back then, Lupica appears insufferable.
That’s it. Enjoy.