Monday Night Football-Howard Cosell

In the late 1960s,  the NFL experimented by nationally televising a game on CBS on Monday night.  Ratings were so fantastic that the league made it a permanent fixture  every week starting  with the merger year in 1970.    The new NFL awarded the contract to ABC with Howard Cosell as member of the broadcast team.  Humble Howard    completely revolutionized sports broadcasting by injecting candor and the proper perspective to the game.  For all of his sophistication,  HC was  informal and removed some of the stiffness associated with the media, especially at the national level.

Before Howard Cosell hit the Monday night screen, the announcers tried to sell  football games like items in a super market.  Ray Scott, though quite articulate,  was probably the worst offender.  He rarely stated when a player made a mistake or  played poorly for a long period.  Scott often seemed like he was reporting the news with his deadly serious almost laconic style.  He never  showed much emotion and was almost colorless.   Others were just as bad.

Making matters worse was the overselling of the game.  Ray Scott and others could tell how important and exciting  a 30 to 0 exhibition game was.  They of course were fooling and statements like this were false and ridiculous.   When announcers made these statements:

1. They were lying;

2. The TV audience knew they were lying.

3. The announcers knew the audience knew they were lying.

Howard Cosell smashed this veneer and in his own words “told it like it was.”   The audience could relate to the game better.  His style spread all over broadcasting booth and changed television for good.

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