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Howard Cosell Biography

Family Influence, Career At Abc, Controversial Commentary, Monday Night Football, Chronology, Broken Ties


American sportscaster

Sportscasting had never before known the likes of Howard Cosell, nor is it likely to see another like him again. He became an enormous figure despite the fact that he was verbose, egotistical, decidedly untelegenic, outspoken about controversial issues, and oblivious to the feelings of others. These negative attributes were almost equally balanced by his intelligence, work ethic, social commitment, and ability to entertain. As a radio and television commentator, Cosell became one of the best-known voices and faces in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, during which time he was loved and hated in seemingly equal measure. The highest point in his career came when he appeared on ABC television's Monday Night Football, helping to establish it as one of the most successful shows in television history. But Cosell did more than increase ratings for televised sports, he also introduced a journalistic approach to the subject. Most notably, he addressed the issue of race in sports and became a vocal supporter of boxer Muhammad Ali when he was censured for evading the draft. The sportscaster's inability to temper his criticisms ultimately shortened his career, however. His 1985 autobiography I Never Played the Game contained such harsh appraisals of his ABC colleagues that it effectively ended his television career.

Sketch by Paula Pyzik Scott

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsSports Journalism