Book Talk guest Mark Ribowsky author "Howard Cosell: The Man, The Myth and the Transformation of American Sports"
We WanNA bring our first guest on tonight brand new book. He has out all about really talking about football one of the voices of broadcasting. Of course, it broadcast Monday night football for many years talking about Howard Cosell the name of the book is called the man, the mouth and the transformation of American sports joined by the author of it. Mark Rabovsky today by telephone who I guess lives up in Long Island, they recognize the area code. Mark. How do I do for now for this minute I do you talking to a couple of long islanders which I grew up along Don I think you you grew up there as well. Live there part of the time, right? Well, why family did he lives in bayside but I resided in New Jersey. Most of my life and right now talking to you is the Jersey Shore Morgan we've got a lot of fog down here tonight I saw the empire state building a little bit earlier on the six thirty news and nothing but the very top of the State shall we got a pretty low ground level that I. Sounds Pretty. Eerie. Back because was like Londoners from. Long Island tonight or are you on the road? No I'm long. It's on the Nassau Suffolk border right now I don't see the empire state from year. We got plenty of five year day that comes right off the right on the coast of Jersey shore here we've kept playing fog. Mark Howard cosell football yeah. When have you talk about first of all congratulations now the book getting a Lotta Great Press Ahead Mad, Dog Russo talking about on his show and several other shows as well. So first congratulations on that. Thanks for letting me know. I'm usually the last to know. What got you started mark. This is something that you decided upon or you sort of had a lifelong broadcasting. Interests that you went to Howard cosell. No in fact, I you know. Really. Think much coach. So when I was when he was sort of the one of the soundtracks of my my life growing up, he was just a guy who was there you know. But then again, you learn to appreciate things later on in life what do you know it's almost like a cliche humid- when it's gone. Most wanted gone and we don't have very many. Kosova. Don't have any console weapons forecasting I sure wish we had some because as Abrasive as obnoxious as the man was how easy it? What they hate the guy he was the guy who galvanize every around him people who hated them with the first ones to turn turn on the TV to watch him. It was a different sports era was much simpler. In now, the twenty four hour news cycles and ESPN, and screaming sports heads all throughout the day was very simple. It was a smaller universe three networks, and in that more Howard was really the Guy Dot for about maybe fifteen years dominated that aspects of the media and that's really One of the reasons I wrote the book because I wanted to reintroduce people to a guy who was such a magazine such such a titanic figure in his day. while. I wish I'd had the opportunity to read the book before I chat with you because I don't want to bring things up about a sequence, but in my view and and I. Pretty much followed Howard all the way through when he started doing the early interviews at Evanston and thank you stadium an all around New York. But I think the thing that really gave him the idea. To become bigger than sport itself was Casey. Stengel when he continually wanted to have Casey stangl fire talked about sleeping in the dugout was doing what the mets doing and so forth. So on and he realized at that point in my view is the only by our position that he could galvanize hatred by being against the thankful. Which? The the end no to that story that he did that. At the time when he was actually doing the mets pre game show, you know you're. Amazing. there. When everybody else is trying to build up this team of misfits and clowns sort of an attraction he was carrying them down and he was actually working not for them. But he was you know he was he was a guy who was who was tune into when you would turn out a met game. I. Don't think the Club we've got thrilled by. Sponsors. But that that was cosell he'd had to have an opinion regardless he was always very. For Him. It didn't matter of who sponsors want what they wanted. The owners wanted what they wanted. ABC was the NCAA's network. Football Games of the NCAA started with it with ABC in the sixty yet Howard were always ranted and raved that the being a Morass Cesspool corruption and this is ABC was was the NCAA network it what kind of that's kind of bravery still see nowadays, what everybody you know has you know espn we here we're not gonNA are not allowed to talk about certain football players like Ben Rothlisberger when he gets in trouble if they don't want to endanger the relationship that network has with some of these athletes. Imagine. That and he's cosell not binding. Hooves and. That was the kind of. Independence and freedom that he earned for the years. Kind of an interesting guy. I mean aside from sports mark when he was a went to lost, you'll became an actual lawyer I think he'd be practiced Aena for for quite a while on and some local station invited him on just to kind of. Give some legal adviser GonNa Radio, or something like that. Wasn't it? Yeah Yeah. He was. He was an an ad hoc kind of floor know at his former home advisor. Let's say to some of the New York giants Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees in the sixties, and this was what this is part of his plan to. Move. Up into into that business that was always such an impossible dream for him being sports camps. So he was a lawyer use a very fine warrior. was one of the youngest partners in history in New York he was at a firm called Merrill puffer Casella more, Manhattan Labor lawyer making good money for this for a getty always to move further into this. This impossible dream had coming in sportscaster, which I never understood why doing all the research and everything and it was never clear why he chose that profession to to to launches his onslaught into the world but I guess it was because he wanted to its many people as possible to ear him. He was always that way is very arrogant, very obnoxious, very imperial and I guess. Broadcasting was away of making a wish carry is far as good and he did start very small the at the very bottom of the ladder doing a show. Hall League Clubhouse, but you kids asking questions but even then he got attention for because he wrote all the kids. And the questions were harder than any of the sports writers of that year would ask. You got attention for that and he just moved his way up very gradually. They wouldn't allow it to be on TV at all is relegated to the radio for about ten years. Before Before the relationship with cashes clay slash Mohammed Ali was. Really broken out to the public on off broad basis. Well, I remember in the early days. He he went around with just a little tape recorder. He delivered yet said and things of that nature. He didn't really have show or have. You know he would he would interview these players that he? Kept people to play the interviews you know over the whatever stations that he would work with it. We get these people to the play the interviews he did he didn't really have a show. Well. He did average show but there were so amorphous would change every week. They'd have a different name or they would drop that show he come back with another show two weeks later let's your radio said that. Tape Recorder of I was like forty pounds. To Lula's wrapped, strap it on his back and he'd luggage into the clubhouse. He'd be the only guy there with any equipment like that, and the sports writers would just resent him totally for coaching on their sacred. Brown, if they own the clubhouse. Hated him. So they would knock the plug out of a war. Record, it wouldn't work or they. They shout obscenities it from. Michael phone so it would be unusable. That's the. The immediate. Of, enemy making did among the sports ride, which is something that was a running battle throughout his whole life few. He had sports writer Dick Young that was was the main. Antagonists isn't he? Called Dick Young his Asia there. Out So Stuart. Just unbelievable was. Almost interest pile the way they viewed it with each other, but it was very entertaining. Obviously huge are big osage Sullivan would have few walker wind chill people like that would always have refused to that was sort of like incumbent upon people who were celebrity and coastal really enjoyed it but it was there was a double edged sword to that because he made he any enemy. In the media, not only among sports but in in the media as a whole that when he starts to fall in the eighties sort lose altitude there was nobody defendant. Very sad thing everybody sort of sort of ran away from Howard. To the little the little monkey remark. On Monday night football now Seattle Garrick remark and nineteen, eighty three no one was there defend him in the last decade of his life was to miss the horror show. He was all alone. When his wife died emmy and nineteen ninety-one totally alone and died that way even people who hated him so very sad. I know the last conversation I remember I worked in Philly all my life March. So I I I, not see him coming in for Monday night football and things like that. Of course, one of his greatest adventures was at Franklin Field But He would stand auburn it was a columnist for the Philadelphia whether it's in your book and up at and Stan. Hochman, they had a tremendous. You'd for years stand was gonNA assume the they threw back on an airplane together they got to violent discussion and He, he there wasn't a writer in the world that that's. Appreciated or likes to. Howard cosell. Yeah and and he would know exactly which ones are writing. About him even the smallest podunk bugle. No. I don't know how we radar or something he was known as somebody wrote something nasty about him and he would stop around the office all day vilifying whoever it was, who did that and it was like his Howard Cosell, the most recognizable man is sports in the country obsessing over what some two bit writer has to say about him in the paper that was that was that was triggered Samantha but it's jury. Everybody Oi interview always said the same thing that Howard was the most insecure men ever met, and that's certainly showed up in a lot of ways. It was one of the things that made him great kept on erected barriers. Keep with everybody and that drove him to almost You know maniacal Lens grade but the enemies he made as you say, that'd be everybody I mean I don't know how the man live because there was a new every day brought another confrontation. Thought that from an articulation standpoint pick it always bring the other person down the other person didn't know nor did he make as well? He was almost he was almost A. A world famous lawyer talking to people down that never never with that always down and that was his his strength was that he was smarter than they were. You use bigger words they hit and he drew a lot more than they did. Yeah in the beginning, he was able to use that with sort of a wink. Would sort of able to play toward that. You know the power of Howard Cosell a little self deprecating humor. You didn't think it was him. You thought it was an act that he was playing. It was one of the things that kind of made him enduring. But later on, you lost all that, any was not in hearing at all towards long. As as you say everyone he would run into you know would come away with this Howard cosell story of being being browbeaten and be rated by Howard. It just became. It wasn't funny after a while in the beginning it was funny to be attacked by our. Larry Merchant so that you know he said. At, the beginning when he attacked, we were flattered we loved it. It was Howard. But towards the end, it was like, who is who is this guy to be attacking anybody you know? He's no bargain. This guy. Change to the fact that he really meant it I mean. The early. Hey, babe, it'll self-deprecation. But as it grew on he he meant what he said I mean he he he hated. Well, he put it on a book write. That book I never played the game which was. A three hundred page rant against everyone basically he ever met. Give us specifically Gifford and meredith but anyone route arlene should anyone whoever whoever was on his side came in for a brutal tonguelashing in that book and it was not pretty at all. Time with Abou- author of Howard Cosell. The man, the myth and the transformation of American sports You mentioned his name earlier of the association with as you said, the beginning with caches quiet and became Muhammad. Ali that that association was that calculated. You think on how cells that he would be elevated by being associate with Alli. Or did he really feel for Allie going through what he did at that time? He was very calculating man was very starting a business bent marketer of himself and in the sixty. That was one that was when popular culture demanding different kinds of. Heroes of Anti. Heroes people who you wouldn't expect to be. Aerobic. Big. Mouths. You know people who brag about themselves and everything like that. So they recognize each other that if they can. In the sort of buddy. Buddy Buddy game here that they would go even further than they would on their own. You know Howard was very close with what Patterson before Clay Shaw Ali came along. He was the producer of the ABC Radio Network fight coverage and he would go all the big fights and he would get very close to the two fighters he. Floyd. was almost a family member of a member of in the coastal households to his wife and daughters love Boise and then they had a falling out which is almost like a divorce. It was like a like a you know it was that personal a thing and that came about judge as clay what's coming around so I think it was you know because so ready to junk one wife for another you know and and the Clay Lee became his wife Professional. Like Emmy was his wife. Wife for about fifteen years they same ups and downs and you know separations and records. But it was like to the public. It was unbelievable like we've got folly was there without cosell. You say, well, where's our you know Howard has to be there for. The remarkable thing and I still think. The single most brave the brave thing I've ever seen and heard in sports journalism was Kosovo defensive all league when he refused to go into the military because they had nothing to do with politics or religion or anything like that. It was based strictly on the Constitution and the law and processed, and only cosell could have done that at the time because nobody else at any. At any network could've been framed, elect that cosell having been the warriors no executive talking about and that's a really really finest moment and one of the finest moments journalism I think. and. The other thing was that I think route Orleans was a genius. He realized that hating somebody was as important as loving someone that the more he put. Howard cosell on the game the more things he did with Howard goes though with Mohammad-ali the more people hated him the more people they tuned in to say that they hate it but they tuned into every minute of his radio show every bit of living stevie. Action which was exactly the formula that made Monday night football such an incredible. Of people don't realize today if they didn't live through it what an event it was. Burning I took and and and realize the the basis of it. All I agree with Howard because you you would. It was called. There was a thing called the the Tuesday night the Tuesday coffees the. Coffee Break Syndrome or something or water cooler cooler man. We get together right at the office on Tuesday and talk about what Howard cosell instead the night before and it didn't matter what teams were. You could have the worst teams in the League at thirty two nothing game in the third quarter and they never would lose their audience because people will be waiting to hear how cosell would attack the. Tactical. Team that was losing it an amazing phenomenon at Howard Howard, played it to the hill. Unfortunately, that was when he got to lose it as a journalist. He's started to become the caricature of Howard cosell and that sort of his pave the way towards his sad end. But while it lasted, that was like unbelievable phenomenon. Monday night football and you know DEB security guards to get in and out of the stadium. Threats daily. That's the kind of that's what life was like being Howard. cosell. And right because if they did people talked about really you was more about what Howard Cosell said that what the game is on. The game was sort of secondary less was maybe agreed bay packer game or something like that. You don't see that now at all now. Totally. Dependent it was a bad game and we'll get bad rating back. Then it it was more than a game. It was you know non football fans. Had had to watch you know women had to watch young people at to watch. A totally different dynamic for broadcasting sports at absolutely revolutionary. Introduced on understood introduced but he announced The John Lennon killing on Monday night football. Yeah, which is another example of how how different things were that that was the only live broadcast at the time. In trying time and for most of us, I know for me and most of the people that are that I run into who remember that say Yeah I learned about that from Howard cosell on Monday night football. The ironic thing being that Howard didn't want to go on the air with that for. As much of a of a man with impeccable news judgment Edgy always fancied himself. It was actually Frank Gifford Guy, you always derided kind of a dummy. Who Convinced Howard to go on the air he didn't want to interrupt the game a close. They want to interrupt the game floor but Gifford said, how would you have to go on? This like the world has been know this. And in typical cosell style you know he did. Pitch Pitch Perfect fashion you know dead on arrival those famous three. So I mean it was almost as famous as down goes frazier. An Howard was just doing this doing his work doing the job he was brilliant. It was when he began to be. You got to do the caricature power that he sort of slid. Well also the Olympic as everybody remembers Jim McKay and how devoted he was at the time to you know what actually happened in the You know the sadness of it, all and the Howard. Also was a was a big part of that as well. Howard. Always considered that the biggest disappointment the big A. Crushing disappointment of lifetime and never forgave roone arledge for he wanted to go on the air because as a Jew he felt he was he was almost over that. You know his story right? He was the only one reported it and. The idea does some brilliant work as a reporter during the these Rayleigh hostage situation in the Olympic village lying on its belly fifty feet from that building where was all happening but later on he was he was overawed tired was emotional and You know you've probably been drinking. That's that's something that was a constant in Howard's live. He was a heavy drinker he knew how to hold this maybe he didn't on that night Philadelphia matches before. He always claimed he wasn't drunk that. Those don't believe that. Don't believe that. But Ruin Win Maroon Algebra not let him on the air in the UNIX and thank God because he made a would have made a massive it and what we had said with Jim McKay's doing. They're all gone trap did on. The also. Disappointment of. Didn't say also from the know the journalism and in Sports Howard wasn't shy about doing some show Biz things made a couple of appearances on shows like the couple had that I. Guess It was seventy night live with Howard cosell show kind of an Ed Sullivan type show didn't last long but he enjoyed that too the name. Choi that after. The show Biz aspect roasts of Dean, Martin roasts, and all that kind of thing. Howard considered himself an alleged or he considered himself the ultimate celebrity and he rubbed elbows with other ultimate celebrities you know Gene Frank Sammy the whole deal you know you could call up anybody and get them on the on the white. He did the Frank Sinatra Comeback Comeback Concert Hall Right Guard, the introduced that. Three Woody Allen moved. He was all over the place in the pop. Culture. In the in the seventies and early eighties, he usually playing himself which somebody else can do. Howard with our and which is why there are no more hours. But he loved being a celebrity. You know. He you remember battle of the network storrow. Sure. He'd love to do that. You know he could begging. You can make a foot race between Gate Kaplan and Robert Conrad seems likes. The ultimate Olympics. Land and balanced or or something like. So. Yeah. He loved he just loved that and that that was part of the part of that era when he became less of a journalist more of A. Caricature. You know he wanted to be a celebrity. Mark weather the things you mentioned earlier and I sort of made this always analogous to Howard and that was war windshield the way he was all the way up it was the greatest thing that from soup to nuts and when he folly starting to go down everybody climbed on the bandwagon wanted to go. And I think they were very close that way. It's a good one I, I I I definitely remember the diffused and everything I was Sullivan which has huge. Yeah. It's Yeah. Had similar styles to very in your face. Absolutely. Nobody wants. twits yours another one that went all the way up at hopefully that. Wasn't a good gifting but has kind of personality that everybody loves the top by the end it was way there. Well, that's what happens when you make enemies. So so readily tower did Howard had to make enemies. Part of his site that he had to have someone to hate on in order to build up his own you go very, very insecure man I mean. The he was never secure that he even would have a job from one week to the next believe it or not. He was that insecure about e constantly needed people he used to walk into the lobby of the ABC corporate building on Avenue, the America's on Tuesday morning after the Monday night game waiting for the executive come through the revolving doors so that he could come up to them and hear them say what a great job you. Just Howard Cosell, you know you so insecure about it and at the end he just he did himself no favors by making so many enemy could've used a few friends. From eighty-five on when when everything sort of dried up for it was amazing showtime he died in ninety five people had already begun to to forget him. That's almost like a conscious conscious backlash against somebody when that happens after how high it been, who we'd like. People just want to forget about. The question about it and as I say in which case IT WASN'T TV? It was radio but he was the ultimate peak. You know Sunday night show that he did, and then of course, the gossip column and all the other things that he did and what the Californian slowly things started to deteriorate and basically exactly the same stories Howard cosell nobody likes you and. I remember him in the untouchables open you know, right? Yeah. That was when and that cymbeline our that was at a time with few people even remember to win which was right saw. The. Great. Fall people have. Michael said an interview and Howard became. Better at the end of the you know the m salts weren't funny. Anymore became a bitter situation and I guess like you said, he literally died alone the last few years not happy. Terrible even the people who really didn't like Howard, couldn't fail to be. On just the tragedy of the sadness of his ending especially when his wife dies any in nineteen ninety-one because she was really the only person throughout his life, he could rely on was in ballast. Every day with them. She wants everybody they gave them Oh. Yeah. He wouldn't had to be there because. He just lost all reality when she wasn't there. She was the only one who could stop him from becoming of Texas. You know making a spectacle of himself in public most you have to do is look at them Howard, you know he would stop immediately like a little kid obeying his mother and there was a great love story in the midst of all this clatter and Din and confusion around Howard. There was a great love story between onto their so opposite. He Jewish. She not she from a wealthy background he not. And you know there was just so different but they merged almost to become the same person at the she died in ninety one in a very sad he was he was the last four years of his life basically walking dead waiting to die. It was so sad a man who had ruled is his industry like that was all. So alone shut off from everybody and He again, he he did himself very few favours to prevent that he could have possibly prevented that had. Just lost that insecurity and treated people better than he did. To fascinating subject ends book written by Mark for Bass, you who's our guest? Howard cosell. The man, the myth, the transformation of American sports mark. Get out a website. You can get a hold of the booker hold you. Well you you could. You could just you don't needed your favorite bookstore. Amazon DOT COM OR BARNES AND NOBLE DOT COM pick it up there and. It should be there. I mean. It's been third printing. Now it's only been out a few weeks I guess people are. Interested. In learning about Howard and I'm glad they are because. He's missed. As Obnoxious Missed the I mean he's missed when you look around TV's, you know sports these days. Very kind of it's either it's either antiseptic for. Yelling and screaming about basically nothing and. We could really use her our journalist someone with a little bit. More of a sensibility about it now, but we're the latter yelling screaming about nothing yet. It's out or it's become more more s word up there. That's like the curse Howard you know they they they they approximate that part of him without the other part of him, which was the as a journalist because he's the one who merge sports and entertainment. Now, it's almost all entertainment. So how would would probably be just as just as a gas looking around as he wasn't nineteen, sixty five when he looked around the sports well, that works at eight why that's why joy fill must accept much in the New York Post I think he tries to you know he creates conversation he creates items of interest I just enjoy Phil think he does very professional job and and I look forward to two columns Rights what three days a week just Thursday Fridays. On the and of course, the TV section but Tries to bring out things more realistic in rob that type of thing and I I. Write really today that left down all even even sports centres dowse Stugotz said many times. You don't even watch sports center see scores anymore because all they do is jigger roads jumper rally stuff that doesn't make any numbers. Yeah, I mean that programming throughout the day that basically repeats itself every half an hour. and. It's all cookie cutter. Different people talking about the same thing but right? Tibo Tim. Tebow twenty four hours a day. Powered would be wasted his threats with something like that. He would have he would have been all over this penn state I'll tell you that but all you. But you might have fool to you might have actually you might have actually made the case that fraternal has been fired illegally. The Way Ali had been stripped illegally. Liam's titles. That's the way Howard. He come up with something Howard you crazy and you listen to make particular case for what he was saying you wind up agreeing with them. That was our. Defense State Syracuse things are two different I was. told. But I I agree with you. I. Think things that are being discussed right now from a number of different angles and and very correctly. So even ABC News. Major piece on Sandusky tonight and whether it's lawyer was correct incorrect and allowing him to do this interview with the New York. Times. And the previous interview he did on on tape and whether this is the right way to approach it. of the you're right the major major stories right now. And how we going to bring some clarity to it? You know. I mean. He would bring some cohesion as a lawyer of course, he with no political issues back and forth. That's that's something. That's of course missing with totally from sportscasting now and. I disease or You know like that that that you pine for Howard again. You want somebody to be the ultimate word on something rather than having everybody and his brother. And they're all. You want somebody with. What our. Mark appreciate taking some time to spend about a half an hour with us. We could talk for hours on a subject like Howard cosell but we look forward to having again down the road some time but thanks for being with US tonight.