Young people will not remember this man. He was a journalist, lawyer, and sportscaster and more (even a spot in a Woody Allen movie). Along with all of that, he was egotistical, insecure, annoying, opinionated, cruel, obnoxious, jealous, petty but yet I still liked the guy. This man was once voted in a TV Guide poll as the most disliked and the most liked sportscaster of the time. He didn’t care who he upset and according to him he always would “tell it as it is”… He did elevate sports reporting that is now prevalent to this day.
He probably is most remembered for three things. He championed Muhammad Ali and when Ali refused the draft Howard stood by him. Helping boxing become a huge sport. Being Jewish he knew bigotry and always stood for equality. He is also remembered for being in the original Monday Night Football crew… He made it THE show to watch and the NFL owes him quite a bit. Whether you loved or hated him, you would tune in and watch.
The original MNF crew was Cosell, Don Meredith and Keith Jackson (to be replaced by Frank Gifford). I never understood Keith being replaced by Frank…Keith was by far the better broadcaster but Frank looked better for the women viewers. Howard never liked the thought of ex-jocks being sportscasters. He felt like they were taking over and called it jockocracy. Cosell and Meredith made a great team. Meredith didn’t give a care about the game and supplied the humor while the photographic memory of Cosell would rattle off stats without cheat sheets most of the time.
In 1974 during an MNF telecast, the crew were joined by John Lennon and Ronald Reagan. Cosell told Frank Gifford you take the governor and I’ll take the Beatle. Howard wanted to interview John because there were only 4 Beatles in the world but a lot of politicians. Lennon and Regan actually hit it off well while Reagan explained American Football (I would have loved to hear that conversation) to him. Cosell actually talked to John a few years later wanting him and the Beatles to regroup on a terrible show that Cosell was hosting…of course, Lennon politely refused.
Cosell and Ali were linked together for the rest of their lives. Ali would pick on Howard in front of cameras but Cosell loved the attention. Ali helped Cosell and Cosell helped Ali… two completely different people in all ways except both loving the limelight. Cosell’s most famous call? “Down goes Frazier” “Down goes Frazier” “Down goes Frazier”
Only in the 1970s could this pairing happen
When John was assassinated in 1980 Howard broke it to the world on MNF.
Howard faded out in the 80s but took shots at everyone in one of his tell-all books. Again he really didn’t care who he upset.