Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson dies at 89

Lynette Rowe
January 14, 2018

Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, which owns ABC, summed it up in a statement upon Jackson's death, saying, "For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football". Growing up, and hearing the southern drawl of Keith Jackson on hand for a college football game, I knew I was in for a treat. Keith Jackson is one of, if not the, greatest college football broadcasters and is going to be surely missed. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence.

He is survived by his wife Turi Ann and 3 children.

He is credited with naming the Rose Bowl as the Granddaddy of Them All and Michigan Stadium as the Big House.

He covered 10 Winter and Summer Olympics games, including the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He also called another college football classic in the 21st century - Ohio State's Fiesta Bowl victory over Miami in 2003.

His 'Whoa, Nelly!' exclamation was orrowed from his great-grandfather, a farmer, the phrase was also part of a commercial Jackson did for Miller Lite in the mid-'90s. But while his college football career alone would be legendary, it would be a disservice to forget the versatility Jackson showed that was a staple in the Wide World of Sports days.

Jackson was born October 28, 1928, and raised on a farm near the Georgia-Alabama state line, riding a horse to school and intrigued by sports broadcasts on radio. People said I had a mule in Georgia named Nellie.

Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson dies at 89

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.

Over four decades at ABC, the home office of the sport before every network carried it, he defined the sound and feel of the game with his folksy personality, and even folksier sayings. Some call it the greatest college football game ever. Jackson began his collegiate studies as a political science major but quickly switched to broadcast journalism.

Jackson worked for KOMO radio and TV in the 1950s and 60s before taking a job with ABC's Wide World of Sports in 1964. He was the play-by-play man for the inaugural season of NFL "Monday Night Football" and was at the microphone for baseball, pro and college basketball, and auto racing.

"Heavens, no, I was in his field and I was a neophyte in that field", Broyles said. "Thank you for the lessons KJ".

Jackson is a member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and called more Rose Bowl games, 15, than any other announcer. Jackson, however, always maintained that he might have - might have, mind you - used the phrase a time or two early in his career but that mostly it was the work of impersonators, primarily Roy Firestone, who were responsible for the spread of the phrase. He covered American Football League games and was the first play-by-play announcer of ABC's Monday Night Football. He was a five-time National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association National Sportscaster of the Year recipient.

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