He was the voice of sports and in 1970, Howard Cosell became one of the three hosts of Monday Night Football, forever enshrining that weekly sports show for Americans.
Howard Cosell was a brash, egotistical and unforgettable sports broadcaster, whose career soared in the 1960s from his coverage of the world of boxing, and Cassius Clay who would be known as Muhammad Ali.
In 1970, ABC Television, who was airing professional football for the first time in prime time, hired Howard Cosell to accompany Frank Meredith and Don Gifford to commentate on the game of the week. Cosell’s blunt style and contempt for ex-athletes was palpable, but made for good television, with Monday Night Football winning the Nielsen numbers on a regular basis.
As much as colleagues and peers disliked Cosell’s style of bluff and frankness, the viewers loved it. His trademark saying “I’m just telling it like it is” was a memorable phrase that is still atributed to him.
But beyond Monday Night Football, Cosell’s unique voice was also the one that told us about the Battle of the Sexes, the infamous tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, the World Series, as well as the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games.
Cosell’s comments on the major sporting events of the decade made him the voice that everyone wanted to hear. His unique delivery was known by many, even if they weren’t sports fans. When I was playing in the tv room, and my parents watching sports, I could always tell if it was Howard Cosell.
His distinct delivery, grey suits and opinionated commentary made Howard Cosell the voice of sports for the 1970s.