“Howard Cosell: His Life and Times” aired on August 29, 1991 on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” series. This episode on Cosell was hosted by Robert Lipsyte, a New York Times sports columnist. The title is sometimes incorrectly cited as ‘The Life and Times of Howard Cosell.”
Lipsyte examines Howard Cosell’s impact on sports television in a way that hasn’t been done previously, and in a way that clarifies Cosell’s primary target, i.e. the listener. It was with the listeners that Cosell managed to transform sports. He coupled an attorney’s gift for debate with a cutting-edge voice that made listeners believe there was nothing more important than the sporting event they were watching.
Former ABC News chairman Roone Arledge said of Howard Cosell “He’s the garlic that makes the stew work.”
From Howard Cosell Fan
Howard Cosell was more than a great sportscaster, and he was at least to a certain extent, which I will get into later. But he was a great entertainer and a very intelligent and funny man as well. And those things tend to go together.
He had a great ability to see things immediately for what they were and quickly give an intelligent insight about them in a way that everyone could understand and even do it in a humorous way as well.
Howard was sort of the fan’s voice when it came to sportscasting. Not a pure play by-play man or a true expert analyst, someone who would not only watch the game, but give you an expert analysis of what happened and what it means and what to look for.
But what he would give you is a voice for the fans and what fans are seeing and what they may be thinking about it. But could put it in ways that most people couldn’t and put in a way where people would think: “Wow, that is what I was thinking, I just wish I could’ve said it like that.”
Those old ABC’s Monday Night Football games from the 1970s you had Frank Gifford as the play by-play man and I think he did a great job of that. But again he was also a former NFL player who was a Hall of Fame player who wasn’t just a play by play man, but someone who knew exactly what it meant and what he was seeing because he use to play the game professionally. And Don Meredith as the expert analyst who of course use to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s.
But they also had Howard Cosell, who gave the viewers and fans an expert fans perspective of what was going on in the game. What fans may have been thinking and many times we’re thinking, but couldn’t phrase those things in a way that only he could. Because they didn’t have Howard’s intelligence and sense of humor. Howard Cosell is the genuine article of sportscasting. There wasn’t a Howard Cosell before Howard Cosell and there hasn’t been someone like him since.