Howard Cosell

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Howard William Cosell, born Howard William Cohen (March 25, 1918April 23, 1995) 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.


  • This is Howard Cosell telling it like it is.
    • Catchphrase.
  • 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!
    • 1964, Calling the victory of Cassius Clay (who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali) over Sonny Liston.
  • Down Goes Ellis! Down Goes Ellis! He is beaten!
    • ABC's Wide World of Sports , February 1970, Calling the victory of Joe Frazier over Jimmy Ellis.
  • Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier! Down Goes Frazier!
    • ABC's Wide World of Sports , 1973, Calling the victory of George Foreman over Joe Frazier
  • There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.
    • October 12, 1977, reporting a school fire (initially mistaken as a tenament fire), while announcing Game 2 of the 1977 World Series.
  • 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 The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead ... on ... arrival.
    • Monday Night Football, December 8, 1980.
  • I wonder if that referee is constructing an advertisement for the abolition of the very sport that he is a part of?
    • 1982, while announcing a particularly brutal boxing match.
  • Look at that little monkey go.
    • 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.
  • I'd never really wanted to become a lawyer. I guess the only reason I went through with it was because my father worked so hard to have a son who'd be a professional.
    • To Playboy interviewer Lawrence Linderman.
  • 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.


  • Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a showoff. I have been called all of these. Of course, I am.
  • Boxing is the only sport in the world where the clear intention is for one person to inflict bodily harm upon the other person, mainly to the head where brain damage must ensue... I don't think improvements or controls are the answer. I think the answer is abolition.
  • Courage takes many forms. There is physical courage, there is moral courage. Then there is a still higher type of courage - the courage to brave pain, to live with it, to never let others know of it and to still find joy in life; to wake up in the morning with an enthusiasm for the day ahead.
  • Like President Reagan, he is a Teflon man. No matter how many mistakes he makes during a telecast, no matter how glaring his weaknesses as a performer, nothing sticks to him. The television critics, wooed by his smooth off-camera personality, generally rave about him, rarely taking him to task on purely objective standards.
  • I see nothing to sanctify any sports event.
  • I was right to back Muhammad Ali, but it caused me major enmity in many areas of this nation.
  • I would say that Don Meredith's erratic march to the Emmy, the most treasured of all broadcast awards, in his first year of TV work has to be regarded as one of the great feats of modern times.
  • Joe Schmidt, he couldn't motivate a frog.
  • Mommy, why does daddy cuss the TV and call it Howard?
  • My father's name, when he came to America, was Kassell. At Ellis Island, the registrars changed it to Cohen. I honored my father's name by changing it back to its original pronunciation.
  • Sports is human life in microcosm.
  • Sports is the toy department of human life.
  • Nothing is more meaningless or irrelevant than sports writing.
  • The importance that our society attaches to sport is incredible. After all, is football a game or a religion? The people of this country have allowed sports to get completely out of hand.
  • The man has a cash register where a heart should be.
    • Regarding Walter O'Malley, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.
  • The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give.
  • Then there is a still higher type of courage - the courage to brave pain, to live with it, to never let others know of it and to still find joy in life; to wake up in the morning with an enthusiasm for the day ahead.
  • Without me, the nature of the telecasts was entirely altered. I had commanded attention. I had a palpable impact on the show, giving it a sense of moment. If that sounds like ego, what can I say? I'm telling it like it is.
    • Regarding the effects of his leaving Monday Night Football.

About Howard Cosell

  • Howard Cosell was a good man and he lived a good life. I have been interviewed by many people, but I enjoyed interviews with Howard the best. We always put on a good show. I hope to meet him one day in the hereafter. I can hear Howard now saying, 'Muhammad, you're not the man you used to be.' I pray that he is in God's hands. I will miss him.
  • He become a giant by the simple act of telling the truth in an industry that was not used to hearing it and considered it revolutionary. Every person working in sports journalism today owes a tremendous debt to Howard Cosell. His greatest contribution was elevating sports reporting out of daily play-by-play and placing it in the larger context of society.
  • He rose to prominence during a time of drama and upheaval in sports. His style -- part journalist, part carnival barker -- made him unique.
  • He was loud, boisterous and extreme, but he really got people's attention and he was really bright.
  • 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
  • [A] broadcasting pioneer who changed the way people listen to and watch sports.
    • Shelby Whitfield, director of ABC radio sports, People magazine.
  • 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)