'Sports Broadcaster' Keith Jackson Dead at 89

Legendary college football broadcaster Keith Jackson, whose career spanned six decades, died on Friday at the age of 89, ESPN reports.

28, 1928 in Roopville, Georgia, the only surviving child of dirt farmers.

"This is the flawless time", Jackson told The New York Times in May 2006. He graduated in 1954. He called a radio game between Washington State and Stanford. He was the first American sportscaster to cover an event in the Soviet Union: a crew race between the Soviet national team and Washington State. He also worked as a radio news correspondent during those years. The last 40 years of that play-by-play work came with ABC Sports.

Soon he was in the network's college football booth, and the rest, they say, is history.

He began calling college football games for ABC Sports after it acquired the broadcast rights for NCAA football in 1966. Jackson was also a man of the people.

For many young sports fans like myself, when you got to hear Jackson's voice on the telecast, you knew you were about to see a great game with Jackson keeping you company for the next three-plus hours. He is in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame for his contributions to the New Year's Day game, which is he credited with nicknaming "The Granddaddy of Them All".

Locally, Jackson was perhaps best-known for broadcasting the Rose Bowl game every January. Jackson was also there for the Miracle at MI in 1994, the Desmond Howard Heisman Trophy winning punt return in 1991, and the 100th meetings between MI and Ohio State and Oklahoma and Texas.

Jackson was ideal for the casual fan and while he was the first voice of ABC Monday Night Football with Don Meredith and Howard Cosell it was not his style. It was a fitting way for Jackson's final broadcast assignment to send him off into retirement.

"This is the flawless time", Jackson told The New York Times in May 2006.

At various points, Jackson called a hodgepodge of sports that Wide World covered.

Many knew Jackson for his famous catch phrases like "Woah Nellie".

He was roundly criticized for ignoring an ugly incident late in the 1978 Gator Bowl game, when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes punched Clemson player Charlie Baumann after Baumann had intercepted a pass near the Ohio State sideline.

Jackson retired from ABC in 1988. Jackson also appeared in or narrated several sports documentaries.

At the annual Sports Star of the Year award in Seattle, the Keith Jackson Award is now given at the to a member of the media for excellence in communicating the sports stories of Washington state.

In 1999, Jackson was awarded the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Gold Medal - its highest honor - and named to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, the first broadcaster accorded those distinguished honors.

Vanessa Coleman

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