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NFT: What was Howard Cosell like?

SFGFNCGiantsFan : 9/10/2019 9:04 pm
Not sure if to label this a FT or NFT since he was involved in both, but I just started reading this biography on him by Mark Ribowsky called 'Howard Cosell: The Man, the Myth, and the Transformation of American Sports'. I'm only 30 odd pages in so I've yet to get to the meat of his career & he's a bit before my time. I'm curious, to the BBIers who were around during his hayday, what did you think of him? I remember reading an article about him a couple of years back that some '70s poll had him as the most beloved & hated TV personality so he definitely invoked strong feelings on both sides.

Did you like him? Did you hate him? Was he as controversial as history made him out to be?
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RE: Some of his best work  
Gary from The East End : Admin : 9/10/2019 10:10 pm : link
In comment 14571092 sb from NYT Forum said:
Quote:
... Fielding Mellish Honeymoon Night - ( New Window )


Here's Cosell in another Woody Allen movie
We believe prisoners were made to watch this as punishment. - ( New Window )
" Down goes Frazier down goes Frazier"  
gtt350 : 9/10/2019 10:13 pm : link
howard was an original
"Muhamed you're being truculant"  
gtt350 : 9/10/2019 10:14 pm : link
" I don't know what that means but if it's bad that's me"
RE: Fuck it, I'll draw first blood.  
Del Shofner : 9/10/2019 10:16 pm : link
In comment 14571097 smshmth8690 said:
Quote:
I hated him. I always thought he was arrogant, full of himself, and he seemed to talk down to people. I remember seeing on tv, a bar that used to have a raffle every Monday Night. The winner of the raffle used to get the honor of throwing a brick through the tv when he came on during Monday Night Football. I loved that! Was he as bad as I remember him, probably not, but since it always seemed like he was sucking up to the Cowboys, Raiders, and Steelers I found him annoying. Probably because the Giants were terrible. I also liked Frazier more than Ali.


all valid Drew - all true. But he monetized that personality and in that sense was way ahead of his time. Can't argue that he drew viewers - "eyeballs" or "hits" in today's internet terms.
RE: He was and still is unique  
RDJR : 9/10/2019 10:17 pm : link
In comment 14571082 arniefez said:
Quote:
well educated, very smart has already been mentioned and true. He was also a complete egomaniac and somewhat paranoid. He could be the most charming guy in the room or a total ass depending on the day. He was a hustler in the no one out worked him kind of way. He had no fucks to give if he thought someone was being treated unfairly, he spoke out on the right side of biggest issues of his day. He was bigger than sports. His presence at a sporting event made it special and a big deal. There was no one like him before or after.


This post above is right on. I was pretty young when Cosell was in his prime and I loved him. He made me want to be a sports journalist/reporter. I never realized that dream and instead became a lawyer, with much regret. On Mondays my friends and I would try to predict his opening for MNF and the halftime highlights. That voice, that cadence, will never be forgotten.
absolutley hated him  
bluepepper : 9/10/2019 10:18 pm : link
as did the vast majority of people I knew at the time. Not sure I knew anyone who liked him or at least would admit to liking him.

Why did ABC keep him on if he was so hated? Mainly I think because he gave gravitas to sports events that they lacked previously. He covered sports more like a news reporter and made it seem like the fate of mankind hinged on this or that game. And it kept people tuned in or at least Roone Arledge thought it did.
"Sports is the toy department of human life"  
gtt350 : 9/10/2019 10:19 pm : link
.
he was good at boxing though  
bluepepper : 9/10/2019 10:20 pm : link
I will always give him that but with boxing he did play-by-play whereas football and baseball he did color though he knew little of either sport.
I was too..  
FatMan in Charlotte : 9/10/2019 10:32 pm : link
young to enjoy him as a personality.

I did know a couple colleagues who have both passed now who said Cosell was a mean, wretched person.

An angry, arrogant drunk who was driven to be in the spotlight.

I think the MNF guys have alluded to aspects of that in the past.
A real  
thrunthrublue : 9/10/2019 10:40 pm : link
Dick.
RE: I was too..  
AndyMilligan : 9/10/2019 10:46 pm : link
In comment 14571152 FatMan in Charlotte said:
Quote:
young to enjoy him as a personality.

I did know a couple colleagues who have both passed now who said Cosell was a mean, wretched person.

An angry, arrogant drunk who was driven to be in the spotlight.

I think the MNF guys have alluded to aspects of that in the past.

colleagues in television? Nobody achieves Cosell's fame through personality without being a complete narcissist.
He was a great sportscaster  
Ron from Ninerland : 9/10/2019 10:51 pm : link
during an era in which most sportscasters and sportswriters were shills. He knew what he was talking about concerning football, boxing and horse racing. Probably many other sports too, but those were the three I paid attention too when it came to him. He also did football play by play well ( The juice is on the loose ! ). As was pointed out he had a close relationship with Mohamed Ali. It allowed him to detect his illness and to report something was wrong with him before anyone else knew, perhaps even Ali himself.
.  
Bill2 : 9/10/2019 10:52 pm : link
I thought he was the one who most translated the socially important aspect of Ali. Ali was an original voice not only for minorities but he rattled past the breaking point the 1920-s to 1970's packaging and view of sports heroes as corporate and elites wished them to be portrayed...quiet and without much to say.

But beyond that he showed Ali as he was as a person and he did that for other sports figures.

He was fair and genuinely respectful to Joltin Joe and to Foreman and many of the fighters of his era. Hated Don King and turned away from the sport once Bob Arum and King got a hold of it. He was fair to the Nation of Islam and Im not sure Elijah Muhammed deserved fairness. To his credit he called out Ali for sham fights and did not promote his fights once he kept fighting past his prime and to his personal detriment. Felt he was used by Elijah Muhammed

He tore into the hypocrisy of the Olympic managers. He sided with the baseball unions stand. He took stands not to generate social media attention but because he actually believed them.

That's the positives. He was annoying and got his verbal schtick and ego in front of a lot more he could have said and turned off a lot of viewers who also turned out what he was saying.

He was the first reporter I can remember who exposed and explained the business side of sports as a topic.

Not much on baseball. Not much on basketball that I can remember outside of commenting on them as a business. Was a Kareem Abdul Jabbar fan. But mainly he covered Boxing and Football ( two biggest sports of those times) and overall sports as a part of America.

That's what I remember. Decent at allowing others to make fun of his schtick...he played along with the joke
and  
Bill2 : 9/10/2019 11:03 pm : link
he would have tore it up on BBI.

"Bob, you ignorant purveyor of bombastic bloat..."

"Joe, you factless mountain of moldy mediocrity..."

In that sense I wonder how he would have done in the world of 24/7 sports talk and shock jock radio and ESPN as it is currently constituted?

I think he would not be able to take the many mediocre sports talking heads of the current scene
Down goes Frazier will be one of those calls that live in infamy  
PatersonPlank : 9/10/2019 11:05 pm : link
Frazier had never been knocked down before, and had won the first Ali Frazier fight.
Not..  
FatMan in Charlotte : 9/10/2019 11:06 pm : link
colleagues of him.

Quote:
colleagues in television? Nobody achieves Cosell's fame through personality without being a complete narcissist.


They were colleagues of mine and knew him in Manhattan. One said he was often in the same coffee shop as him and Cosell would regularly curse out people and call them "peons" and not worthy of being in his presence. I still remember the story 20 years later because I could completely hear Cosell based on the tales in his voice mocking those people, "Do you know I'm the great Howard Cosell and you are just a bunch of coffee drinking schlubs trudging off to a non-descript brick building toiling away in you land of nothingness".
Iconic...Controversial...Unique...Respected  
Pete in CO : 9/10/2019 11:14 pm : link
...all of that. My uncle was a cameraman for ABCs MNF for about 30 years, and he loved Howard. Told me a story about Howard getting drunk in the booth and had to leave the broadcast booth one night after vomiting all over Don Meredithís cowboy boots. Pretty sure it was public knowledge. Despite his very unique personality, Iíve always been told he was a very genuine and kind person.
It was said on here already, but the Howard, Frank and Dandy Don trio was as good as it gets. Other than Howard and Frank, I loved listening to Dan Dierdorf.
I met Howard once  
floridagiantsfan : 9/10/2019 11:20 pm : link
When working at an ad agency I was invited to a small private lunch at the network. Howard, who was not part of the gathering walked in during pre-lunch cocktails and was a total
ass. Most arrogant and obnoxious individual I have ever met or talked to
RE: Iconic...Controversial...Unique...Respected  
PatersonPlank : 9/10/2019 11:22 pm : link
In comment 14571183 Pete in CO said:
Quote:
...all of that. My uncle was a cameraman for ABCs MNF for about 30 years, and he loved Howard. Told me a story about Howard getting drunk in the booth and had to leave the broadcast booth one night after vomiting all over Don Meredithís cowboy boots. Pretty sure it was public knowledge. Despite his very unique personality, Iíve always been told he was a very genuine and kind person.
It was said on here already, but the Howard, Frank and Dandy Don trio was as good as it gets. Other than Howard and Frank, I loved listening to Dan Dierdorf.


Dandy Don, Howard, and Gifford (the straight man) were indisputably the best Monday Night Football announcing team. It's not even close. Between Dandy Don singing "Goodnight Night the lights are out", or Howard's halftime highlights, it was fascinating must see TV.
RE: RE: Iconic...Controversial...Unique...Respected  
steve in ky : 9/10/2019 11:38 pm : link
In comment 14571188 PatersonPlank said:
Quote:
In comment 14571183 Pete in CO said:


Quote:


...all of that. My uncle was a cameraman for ABCs MNF for about 30 years, and he loved Howard. Told me a story about Howard getting drunk in the booth and had to leave the broadcast booth one night after vomiting all over Don Meredithís cowboy boots. Pretty sure it was public knowledge. Despite his very unique personality, Iíve always been told he was a very genuine and kind person.
It was said on here already, but the Howard, Frank and Dandy Don trio was as good as it gets. Other than Howard and Frank, I loved listening to Dan Dierdorf.



Dandy Don, Howard, and Gifford (the straight man) were indisputably the best Monday Night Football announcing team. It's not even close. Between Dandy Don singing "Goodnight Night the lights are out", or Howard's halftime highlights, it was fascinating must see TV.


In those early years MNF was a real big deal. It was almost like a weekly event, a real spectacle.
Count me  
Jay in Toronto : 9/10/2019 11:44 pm : link
As a fan.


Bananas - ( New Window )
He was a  
Bill in UT : 9/11/2019 12:26 am : link
pompous ass, but entertaining. Maybe like Trump with a vocabulary, lol. He was always part of the story
He was  
Allen in CNJ : 9/11/2019 5:00 am : link
brilliant, extremely well spoken, and had an amazing way of getting interviews, touching on the hot topics, and covering the big news events. He was quite pompous, but, he was also extremely objective in all of his views. He was one of a kind in so many ways.
Didn't like him for many years  
Peter from NH (formerly CT) : 9/11/2019 6:30 am : link
but I think he l mellowed a bit over the years and he became both an institution and more likable. He certainly was full of himself and his opinions.
RE: absolutley hated him  
gmenatlarge : 9/11/2019 6:41 am : link
In comment 14571141 bluepepper said:
Quote:
as did the vast majority of people I knew at the time. Not sure I knew anyone who liked him or at least would admit to liking him.

Why did ABC keep him on if he was so hated? Mainly I think because he gave gravitas to sports events that they lacked previously. He covered sports more like a news reporter and made it seem like the fate of mankind hinged on this or that game. And it kept people tuned in or at least Roone Arledge thought it did.


+1 Absolutely hated him on MNF, we used to watch with the sound off, there were times it appeared he was watching a different game from what we were seeing. I don't remember anyone I knew liking him, universally despised. But when it came to boxing he had his niche.
Look at that little Meggett run!  
aquidneck : 9/11/2019 7:08 am : link
HC's call during a mid-eighties MNF game featuring the NYG.
hmm  
giantfan2000 : 9/11/2019 7:24 am : link
it wasn't that he was must see TV
back in the day there were only 3 Networks!
he was on of the crew of Monday night football which would attract 40% of the audience on the night .

it a media landscape of just 3 networks - Cosell stood out he was pompous odd looking with unique way of talking

he had a terrible TV variety show on ABC for a year ..
RE: Look at that little Meggett run!  
aquidneck : 9/11/2019 7:49 am : link
In comment 14571234 aquidneck said:
Quote:
HC's call during a mid-eighties MNF game featuring the NYG.


Actually, I'm thinking now it was Madden. Guess all things blend together over time.
Howard  
liteamorn : 9/11/2019 8:04 am : link
Announced the John Lennon murder .

You loved to hate Howard, and he played that role well, but when he announced the Lennon murder, he put it all in perspective.
RE: RE: Look at that little Meggett run!  
liteamorn : 9/11/2019 8:18 am : link
In comment 14571264 aquidneck said:
Quote:
In comment 14571234 aquidneck said:


Quote:


HC's call during a mid-eighties MNF game featuring the NYG.



Actually, I'm thinking now it was Madden. Guess all things blend together over time.


What Howard caught a lot of flak for for saying was "look at that little Monkey run" in reference to a Redskin (I forget who) .
He made his name  
Gman11 : 9/11/2019 8:25 am : link
as a boxing announcer and was excellent at it. Then, he got a big head and acted like people watched the sports just to listen to him. He became unlistenable. He went from being naturally controversial to forcing it. At the end of his run I couldn't stand him.
He made Monday Night football  
Gettledogman : 9/11/2019 8:28 am : link
a big deal. His halftime highlights were worth the wait. One of the Best narrators ever. One of the best sports entertainment Journalists ever.
Professionals like Cosell, Madden, Keith Jackson  
JonC : 9/11/2019 8:30 am : link
are a big reason today's broadcasts feel so homogenized and ho hum.
RE: Professionals like Cosell, Madden, Keith Jackson  
crick n NC : 9/11/2019 8:32 am : link
In comment 14571298 JonC said:
Quote:
are a big reason today's broadcasts feel so homogenized and ho hum.


Real (cosell, Madden, Jackson) vs manufactured (today)

In my opinion.
Cosell complimented me on TV  
Alan in Toledo : 9/11/2019 8:52 am : link
McEnroe vs. Henrik Sundstrom at Forest Hills in May, 1985 where McEnroe won in three sets.

I served as chair umpire for a near-perfectly umpired match. Then, just a couple of weeks later, I (with wife & daughter) sat right next to McEnroe & Tatum in a play shown in a small theater on, I believe, west 42nd St.
Alan  
Bill2 : 9/11/2019 9:11 am : link
I was there for that match. Cant say I remember the Chief Umpire. Went to see McEnroe

Very cool. Bravo. That's a cool and unique experience
RE: RE: Professionals like Cosell, Madden, Keith Jackson  
JonC : 9/11/2019 9:13 am : link
In comment 14571302 crick n NC said:
Quote:
In comment 14571298 JonC said:


Quote:


are a big reason today's broadcasts feel so homogenized and ho hum.



Real (cosell, Madden, Jackson) vs manufactured (today)

In my opinion.


Very few are really good and unique at their job these days. It's the old 80s joke about stuffing a talking mannequin up there in front of the camera. Or, it's just a product of me being older and feeling like I've seen it all, and few stick out.

Even my crush Diana Russini needs some improvement on her field work.
Hated him  
Post Time : 9/11/2019 9:18 am : link
He kissed Ali's ass but Ali treated him like his little bitch, which Cosell tried to laugh off.

Surprised nobody mentioned the little monkey comment...
Too young to have seen him on TV  
Greg from LI : 9/11/2019 9:27 am : link
other than the occasional interview. My father generally hated him, though he did say the one thing Cosell did well was boxing.

Dad blamed him for coining a term he hated,"foot speed" - "The hell does that mean? What other kind of speed is there when you're talking about how fast someone runs? Just say speed"
RE: RE: RE: Professionals like Cosell, Madden, Keith Jackson  
crick n NC : 9/11/2019 9:29 am : link
In comment 14571341 JonC said:
Quote:
In comment 14571302 crick n NC said:


Quote:


In comment 14571298 JonC said:


Quote:


are a big reason today's broadcasts feel so homogenized and ho hum.



Real (cosell, Madden, Jackson) vs manufactured (today)

In my opinion.



Very few are really good and unique at their job these days. It's the old 80s joke about stuffing a talking mannequin up there in front of the camera. Or, it's just a product of me being older and feeling like I've seen it all, and few stick out.

Even my crush Diana Russini needs some improvement on her field work.


👍
RE: Cosell complimented me on TV  
AndyMilligan : 9/11/2019 9:57 am : link
In comment 14571319 Alan in Toledo said:
Quote:
McEnroe vs. Henrik Sundstrom at Forest Hills in May, 1985 where McEnroe won in three sets.

I served as chair umpire for a near-perfectly umpired match. Then, just a couple of weeks later, I (with wife & daughter) sat right next to McEnroe & Tatum in a play shown in a small theater on, I believe, west 42nd St.


great story
Howard  
Carson53 : 9/11/2019 11:26 am : link
could not be described in a few words, one of those
complex individuals. He could be articulate, arrogant,
condescending, compassionate, etc. A lot of layers to that
particular onion. I did enjoy his ongoing repartee with
Ali years ago. I know I read a book about him back in the
day, forget who wrote it? Maybe Dick Schapp?
RE: RE: RE: Look at that little Meggett run!  
Emlen'sGremlins : 9/11/2019 12:58 pm : link
In comment 14571284 liteamorn said:
Quote:
In comment 14571264 aquidneck said:


Quote:


In comment 14571234 aquidneck said:


Quote:


HC's call during a mid-eighties MNF game featuring the NYG.



Actually, I'm thinking now it was Madden. Guess all things blend together over time.



What Howard caught a lot of flak for for saying was "look at that little Monkey run" in reference to a Redskin (I forget who) .


It was Art Monk.

"I said Monk! I said Monk!"
It was Alvin Garrett  
Greg from LI : 9/11/2019 1:01 pm : link
.
Cosell hated the football draft  
gtt350 : 9/11/2019 2:04 pm : link
said it was the biggest much ado about nothing getting coverage.
He would be rolling over in his grave seeing it today
He was OBNOXIOUS...  
x meadowlander : 9/11/2019 2:12 pm : link
...he was a massive HYPOCRITE in real-time - countless memories of him burying a player or coach with criticism only to sing praises from high heaven after that same person did something amazing - just a massive blowhard - I loved Gifford and it drove me nuts when Cosell would overtake an entire evening, just rambling on and on.

I for one was not entertained by celebrity interviews in the middle of a fucking game. I got annoyed when MNF got bigger than the game.

The sum of that trio was greater than it's parts. Someone here said they were the best trio ever, and I concur - it was a golden age of football and they were a major part of it.

Cosell drove people nuts, but he was also a reason you tuned in.
RE: RE: Fuck it, I'll draw first blood.  
smshmth8690 : 9/11/2019 2:20 pm : link
In comment 14571135 Del Shofner said:
Quote:
In comment 14571097 smshmth8690 said:


Quote:


I hated him. I always thought he was arrogant, full of himself, and he seemed to talk down to people. I remember seeing on tv, a bar that used to have a raffle every Monday Night. The winner of the raffle used to get the honor of throwing a brick through the tv when he came on during Monday Night Football. I loved that! Was he as bad as I remember him, probably not, but since it always seemed like he was sucking up to the Cowboys, Raiders, and Steelers I found him annoying. Probably because the Giants were terrible. I also liked Frazier more than Ali.



all valid Drew - all true. But he monetized that personality and in that sense was way ahead of his time. Can't argue that he drew viewers - "eyeballs" or "hits" in today's internet terms.


That is a perfect comparison.
Loved him as a little kid  
jpkmets : 9/11/2019 3:00 pm : link
He made MNF have this mystique to me.

Probably would hate him now tho. Seems very much of his times.
Simple question - - - - extremely complex answers  
Phil in Joisey : 9/11/2019 6:57 pm : link
I had the privilege (yes privilege) of working with Howard.
First things first: he was the most professional broadcaster I've ever seen. Never utilized a script but if you asked him for 30 seconds, he gave you exactly 30 seconds and he hardly ever used a stop-watch either. He
was charming, funny and kind to those he worked with.
He was a devoted family man. When his wife passed away
he was inconsolable and his own life began to wither.
He revolutionized the art of commentary on radio and tv.
There was no "telling it like it is" before Howard.
Did he have his faults? Surely. His ego was bigger
than the Goodyear blimp. Was he a drunk. Absolutely not! However he did over-indulge one night on the air in
Philadelphia and I don't think he ever lived that one down. He was mortally embarrassed by that mistake but in true Cosell fashion he tried to bluff his way through it claiming it never happened.
Did he help boost ratings? Damn right he did. There is something called the "Q" quota which measures popularity and negativity. Howard led the league in both! Half the audience tuned in because they loved him - - - - the other half tuned in hoping he'd screw up.
His appearances as an after-dinner speaker and host for charity and sports events were unparalleled. Everybody wanted Howard to headline their affair. He gave his time and efforts as frequently as anyone in the business and he was the best. I heard him give a speech at a radio and tv luncheon about the Olympic massacre of the Jewish athletes in Munich that had the entire audience in tears.
His unique voice was dramatic beyond belief. When Howard spoke, you listened!
Did I personally like the man? I adored him! Both on-the-air and in person he was THE man.
A small personal story: One evening my Mother and Father were in a NYC restaurant and there was Howard a few tables away having dinner with an ABC executive. My Dad
had never met Cosell but was a big fan and walked over to his table and introduced himself mentioning that I was his son. Though he was interrupted from his dinner, Howard was quite gracious to my Dad and said some very nice things about me. A few minutes after returning to
my Mom and their table the waiter brought them a bottle of wine saying "Compliments of Mr. Cosell".
Howard Cosell was one helluva guy. May he rest in eternal peace.
Phil in Joisey  
arniefez : 9/12/2019 11:17 am : link
Thank you. That was great to read.
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