Never in the craziest of dreams did I think I’d ever be nostalgic about Howard Cosell, “Humble Howie,’ the grandest gasbag in the history of sports announcing.
But I am, and a lot of Green Valley football fans probably feel the same way.
For the most part, today’s hair-sprayed, fashionably unshaven anchors and assorted voice-boxers are so birdbrained and boring — so mesmerizingly awful — that the late Mr. Cosell’s pontificating and his ten-dollar adjectives would be a welcome change.
A cloud of Howard’s cigar smoke contained more intelligence than all the rants and rages of the chic, stylish, sophomoric sports-talk shouters we see now. A Cosell stogie by any other name would smell as sweet.
The sports panel talkers today claim to be analysts but they are actually quarrelers.
They’re not conversationalists they are controversialists. Stepping on each others’ lines, interrupting, yelling.
Playing the piano.
Yes, playing the piano.
Have you noticed how many of these morons, in making a point about some NFL linebacker holding out for more money (as if anybody cared) will position their hands two or three inches above the table they sit around, their fingertips touching the table — and they start pounding the “keyboard” as they yell?
Oh, my aching Bach!
Cosell died 24 years ago. He was loud and arrogant and rude … a blast of overbearing conceit. Not only that, he wore a wig that looked like roadkill.
But he was entertaining. You looked in on ABC’s Monday Night Football to see what Howie would do next.
He seldom let us down.
His co-stars, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford were, shall we say …. normal. They were like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot, and Cosell was Godot.
One night the three of them were in a wide-angle camera shot and in the background, a young copyboy tore off a small Associated Press wire story from from a teletype machine and handed it to Cosell. It was about the President deciding to attend some conference somewhere.
Cosell glanced at the story and announced to his TV audience:
“I have just been informed by the White House that the President will go to (Geneva or Palm Springs or Phoenix or Duluth, wherever).”
His pomposity was unmatched, but it was part of Cosell’s shtick.
Today, the TV sports motormouths take their product and themselves too seriously.
They turn red — sometimes scarlet or maroon — screaming at each other over stuff that’s important only to them. Well, mostly.
It’s all about fun and games, guys. It’s all insignificant.
It’s all stuff and nonsense.
And nobody was stuffier or more nonsensical than Howard Cosell.
My favorite Cosell line, other than him claiming the AP story off the teletype was a personal message from the White House, was his call on a Billy “White Shoes” Johnson touchdown many years ago.
Roared Humble Howie: “Look at him register elation!”
Monday Night Football was, for all practical purposes, The Howard Cosell Show. You knew what you were getting.
And it was a lot more entertaining than a bunch of yuppies screaming at each other, all talking at the same time.
And playing piano without a piano.