Howard Cosell

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Howard Cosell in 1975

Howard William Cosell (March 25, 1918April 23, 1995), born Howard William Cohen, was an American sports journalist on American television. His abrasive personality and tendency to speak his mind, often in erudite terms unusual for a sportscaster, made him, according to one poll, both the most-liked and most-hated television reporter in the country.


  • Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Sonny Liston's not coming out! Sonny Liston's not coming out! He's out! The winner and new heavyweight champion of the world is Cassius Clay!
  • The Rooneys are the finest people, the people I most respect in American sports ownership. I've always felt that way. And there's no reason to change. They are people of integrity and character... I have a whole transcendental feeling for the Steelers and the Rooneys and Pittsburgh.
  • Crowd screaming chanting ALI! ALI! Legends die hard and Ali is learning that even he can not be forever young.
    • October 2, 1980 during the 9th round of the ill-fated Muhammad Ali-Larry Holmes World heavyweight championship.
  • He is working Duran effectively....and Duran must resolve from pulling in...and he does...WHAT?! DURAN HAS QUIT?! ROBERTO DURAN HAS QUIT!!! There can be no other explanation. Pandemonium in the ring, and Roberto Duran has quit!
  • This, we have to say it, remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead … on … arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that newsflash, which in duty bound, we had to take.
    • Monday Night Football, December 8, 1980.
  • That little monkey. The theorem was that he was too small to play in the NFL.[citation needed]
    • Referring to Mike Adamle during an Exhibition Hall of Fame Game, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Giants, Fawcett Stadium, Canton Ohio, July 29, 1972.[specific citation needed]
  • Look at that little monkey run!
    • During the Halftime Highlights segment of Monday Night Football on September 24, 1973 when describing a 97-yard kickoff return by Washington Redskins player Herb Mul-Key against the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • That little monkey gets loose, doesn't he?
    • September 1983, referring to wide receiver Alvin Garrett of the Washington Redskins; the statement was denounced as racist, but it was pointed out that Cosell had regularly used the same term to describe small players of all races.[citation needed]
  • I was infected with my desire, my resolve, to make it in broadcasting. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and how.
    • Cosell.
  • [T]hey wanted... another Joe Louis. A white man's black man... Didn't these idiots realize that Cassius Clay was the name of a slave owner? … Had I been black and my name Cassius Clay, I damned well would have changed it!
    • Cosell.
  • I'm one helluva communicator.
    • I Never Played the Game.
  • He's going to go all-the-way. (often quoted by Cosell during the "Halftime Highlights" segment of ABC's Monday Night Football games to announce touchdowns scored in games on Sunday a day earlier. Adopted as a tribute, and modified to include a hesitating voice cadence by Chris Berman of ESPN as He could... go... all... the … way!)[citation needed]
  • Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, persecuting, distasteful, verbose, a show off. There's no question that I'm all of those things.
    • At a 1973 banquet later to be used for an NFL Films production called Howard Cosell At Large...

Incorrectly Attributed

  • There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.
    • October 12, 1977, reporting a school fire (initially mistaken as a tenement fire), while announcing Game 2 of the 1977 World Series. This comment, while widely attributed to Cosell, was never made.[citation needed]

Quotes about Howard Cosell

  • History will reflect that Howard Cosell was easily the dominant sportscaster of all time, and certainly the most famous.
    • Al Michaels, foreword, What's Wrong with Sports by Howard Cosell
  • Historian (showing Miles a tape of Howard Cosell): At first we didn't know exactly what this was, but we've developed a theory. We feel that when citizens in your society were guilty of a crime against the state, they were forced to watch this.
    Miles Monroe (Woody Allen): Yes. That's exactly what that was.
    • An exchange in the film Sleeper (1973).
  • 50% of the people hated him, 50% of the people liked him, 100% of them tuned in to hear him.
    • Ed Sabol, NFL Films
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