What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
There’s just not many Mohicans left…and we lost another icon of sports broadcasting this past weekend.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The soundtrack to large portions of my childhood came through a Panasonic transistor radio, and it’s all about the voices which drew me to the world of sports fandom.
Chick Hearn brought me the Lakers. Dick Enberg brought me the Angels. And Keith Jackson brought me football.
Jackson was considered by many to be “the voice” of college football, broadcasting the sport for for over half a century. But he also lent his dulcid tones to the NFL as the original voice of Monday Night Football. He also covered major league baseball, the NBA, boxing, auto racing, golf, and the Olympics. He wasn’t even limited to the world of sports having partnered with legendary news man Walter Cronkite at the 1964 Republican National Convention.
But for me, Jackson’s impact came calling college football. Chick Hearn made basketball my first sports love, but Keith Jackson make college football my favorite. There’s been a lot of outpouring lately over the recent passing of Jackson and Enberg, but I think the best way to understand the true legacy of those venerated legends is to start looking at the guys who could be the next generation who will climb to the pinnacle of sports broadcasting.
While that next group might be more television-based than in the realm of radio, that’s merely a function of the popular media of the day. That’s only fitting because Jackson to me was more of a TV guy, but he was no less iconic. You didn’t have to see his face; the voice was so unique. It was all his own; as much as his story-telling style. Jackson made a college football game much more than a simple sporting event. To hear him describe a game transformed it from the gridiron to a glorified struggle, romanticized it without being sappy, and allowed the brutality of the game to be showcased simultaneously with its beauty. Jackson made you feel as though you were on the field; somehow I always heard the sounds of the game woven inextricably into his words.
It might be simply my own perspective, but I believe Jackson was the first “old-school” broadcaster who understood how to really use television as the complement to his voice. If you think about it, the thing that made Vin Scully great was he embraced television, but never once in his approach did you not understand completely he was once and forever a radio man. Jackson was the opposite side of the same coin. By the way Jackson could weave his words through a college football game…not talking over the sounds but rather letting those sounds be his aural punctuation…I’m convinced that he have could run between the raindrops of a Texas thunderstorm and emerged drier than the world’s most perfect Martini.
At the end of the day, Jackson style lends itself to imitation, and the old saying is that’s the sincerest form of flattery. But even the most sincere imitation will never add up to replacement, which is but one reason there will never be another Keith Jackson.