Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Sportswriters, Broadcasters Honor Keith Jackson

Sportswriters, Broadcasters Honor Keith Jackson

Though to hear him tell it, he shouldn't have been. "It's wonderful how it's hung on".

In a 2013 appearance on FOX College Saturday, Jackson explained where his famous 'Whoa, Nellie!' phrase came from.

Over my almost 40 year career in the broadcast business, I have had the honor of working with a few people who deserved the title of an icon.

'I would go around and pluck things off the bush and see if I could find a different way to say some things. "Whoaaaaa, Nellie!' That kind of stuff, and it kind of stuck to the little scruffy kid following him around".

"He said, 'Never be afraid to turn a phrase".

Tributes poured in for the sportscaster from viewers and players. "His impact will live on forever". It's fair to wonder if his relationship with college football is the most synonymous of any announcer and sport in American television history.

Rest in peace, Keith.

Jackson died surrounded by his family, according to NBC Sports' Todd Harris. Kirk Herbstreit, a popular ESPN analyst, tweeted that he could close his eyes "and think of so many of his special calls". Fans appreciated his spot-on analysis as much as they appreciated what became known as his KJ-isms.

He joined the Marines as a teenager, then attended Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, receiving a degree in broadcast journalism in 1954. He also worked as a radio news correspondent during those years.

He was also the first announcer for Monday Night Football, the landmark ABC program that launched the NFL into prime time in 1970. He also announced World Series games, 10 Olympics and traveled to 31 countries, ESPN reported.

He retired in 2006, after calling the Rose Bowl game in which Texas beat Southern California and clinched the national championship.

ABC quickly put him on college football and the fit, as Jackson might have said, was pert-near ideal. The greatest games in the Big Ten were carried along by his voice especially the rivalry of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Wolverines of MI. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence.

Survivors include his wife, Turi Ann Johnsen and children Melanie Ann, Lindsey and Christopher and grandchildren.

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