Friday, April 23, 2010

Humble Howard

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them"

What is it about April 23rd when it comes to the passing of history's three greatest storytellers?

It was on this day in 1616, the most significant figure ever to put pen to paper in the English language passed on to another world at the age of 53. On the very same day in 1616, the greatest contributor to Spanish literature was also called to the heavens while in his 69th year.

And on this day in 1995, the greatest sports journalist to ever appear on camera, signed off for the final time at the age of 77.

As a sports-crazed boy glued to his TV set in the 70's, nobody on the air could hold Howard's microphone. He was the voice of "Monday Night Football"; pontificating even the mundane at such a bombastic level, one could never forget how he described plays such as a routine one-yard plunge by a San Diego Charger fullback.

"Right there Giffer, #37 Hank Bauer ... showing utter disregard for human life".

Howard was also famous for his role as a foil for so many of Muhammad Ali's greatest moments and for delivering the blow-by-blow articulation of some of boxing's greatest bouts.

On the anniversary of his death, I hope the Bard of the Broadcast Booth takes comfort in knowing his work has been compared in some respects to that of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

The footage may be a little dated, but Humble Howard's legacy never grows old.

Howard Cosell.

You could call him a rarefied combination of quixotic journalistic zeal with a plethora of pomposity filtered through the spectrum of mass media.

Never reluctant to share even the most truculent of opinions, he was loved by some.

Loathed by others.

But, ignored by no one.

"What's right isn't always popular. What's popular isn't always right"

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