What did you think of Howard Cosell?

I think he was great at boxing, good in football, and awful with baseball. Your opinions? I was pretty young when he was announcing, so most of my opinions are based on DVDs and YouTube of classic sporting events.

He annoyed the crap out of me. Not only did he have a fingers-on-the chalkboard voice, he was smug, sanctimonious, patronizing and loquacious.

His only saving grace was that he could take and make a joke about himself.

I loved him for boxing, accepted him for football and enjoyed laughing along with him at himself. I thought his voice was totally unique and captivating: it was impossible not to perceive it, with that weird cadence, above the visual and audible it accompanied. I was disappointed in his comment, in the reaction to it being as unforgiving and harsh as it was (understandable tho), and at the loss of a great voice in sports broadcasting (again: I enjoyed the unique sound of his voice).

I can remember feeling this way about him too, but somewhere along the way, my feelings changed and I came to like him. I’m not sure why my feelings changed though.

If he’d never done anything else, his relationship with Muhammad Ali was very special, and very much of the times.


Anyone remember the Howie Sucks sign on MNF? Some fans held up another sign, and when the TV cameras pointed at them they pulled down the cover sign to reveal a big HOWIE SUCKS before the camera could turn away.


Here’s a pic: https://tinyurl.com/y6m4kf3j

Here’s a short video: Howie Sucks sign - YouTube
I liked his halftime highlights on MNF. But for the MNF games I just tolerated him. Yes, with boxing he was pretty good. And Ali loved him. That was great.

His books are entertaining and informed. His unique and independent takes on sport sadly died with him and were replaced by cookie-cutter company men.

From Woody Allen’s Sleeper:

I was a big Ali fan back in the days. The first money I ever lost gambling was a dime, when Frazier beat him. Other than Ali’s interplay w/ Cosell, Cosell was intolerable - even in boxing. He was the first announcer I was ever aware of who made ANY contest about HIM, rather than the contestants. My dad was not a big sports fan, so I’m pretty sure this is an opinion I came up with myself.

And back then, Cosell was EVERYWHERE - the Olympics, Wide World of Sports…

Radio stations broadcasting Monday Night Football would adjust their delays to sync with ABC, for the benefit of people who wanted professional announcing when they watched.

Couldn’t stand him. For one thing, I found his cadence to be an off-putting, deliberately-affected shtick (did he really talk like that in his personal life?). He was also, as other posters mentioned, sanctimonious and smug. Whatever contest he was announcing, even if it was a church-league softball game in Ypsilanti on a Wednesday night, was the. most. important. sporting event to have ever taken place, by virtue of him announcing it.

Bully for him for having a friendship with Mohammed Ali, though.

Yes, give him that - he loved and knew boxing and boxers, and announced fights pretty well - “DOWN goes Frazier!”. But he didn’t know or love football or anything else he tried to do, and it showed.

Superstars, Battle of the Network Stars, the World Series, his own variety show (“Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell”) – ABC put him everywhere in the 1970s.

And, yeah, I didn’t much care for his announcing, and he clearly didn’t know a lot about football. ABC knew that he was polarizing, but that he also spurred conversation, and they leveraged that to their advantage.

I also remember his five-minute daily radio show in the early 1980s, Howard Cosell Speaking of Sports. He had some legitimate concerns; the two I remember are, (a) “big money” college sports was still more about the sports and less about the college (although there was nothing new about this), and (b) if any of the seven people who didn’t include Hank Aaron on their Baseball Hall of Fame ballots in his first year of eligibility did so because Aaron was black (my opinion: no - more than likely, it was a case of, “If (insert the name of someone else) didn’t get in unanimously on their first try, then no one should”).

Yeah, that was probably more the case. I mean, Babe Ruth only got 95% of the vote, and for many years, there was a “grouchy old man” element to the BBWAA voters, which seemed to think exactly that.

I was just a kid in the 70’s, but Howard Cosell always gave me the creeps. I never had the impression that Mohammed Ali liked him much either. They had a repartee which was necessary to both of their careers, but if they liked each other, I missed it.

He did help people learn how to speak English, though.

I mostly hated him. He reminds me of someone currently in the headlines who is always telling you how smart he is, and how dumb the people he deals with are.

He was OK on MNF, when he was one of a team of three. They had a play-by-play guy, an ex-player expert on the game, and then Cosell, to pipe in with records and anecdotes. That was all he was good for.

With boxing, at first they used him the same way, and that was OK, too. But later, I don’t know why, I guess to save money, they had him call fights by himself, and he was atrocious. He knew records, he knew anecdotes, and he loved to tell you about his own meetings with fighters, but he didn’t know what was going on in the fight he was supposed to be calling. His description was accurate only when it was obvious. You need fast eyes and a deep knowledge of the moves to call boxing, and he had neither. I almost always ended up muting him.

As for his “friendship” with Ali, it seemed to me that he just latched onto him to make himself famous, and Ali was nice enough to allow him to do so.

Watch that short video jaycat linked to and then come back and say that again.

Howard Cosell is the guy who told me that John Lennon had been shot and killed. A moment I’ll remember all my life. Other than that, I don’t think of him in any particular way.