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Legendary college football sports announcer Keith Jackson dies at 89

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Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson died late Friday at the age of 89, according to his family, ABC News reported.

Jackson, who was widely seen as the voice of college football, retired in 2006. His last game called was the thrilling 2006 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas — a fitting end, considering Jackson coined the Rose Bowl nickname, “The Granddaddy of Them All.”

SG Kieth Jackson2

Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese worked the booth with Jackson, who was known for colorful expressions like “Whoa, Nellie,” and the former player shared what he will always remember about his partner.

“That big smiling face, and just the thrill and the love he had for doing college football,” Griese said on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

“He did it for a long, long time. … He never intruded on the game. It was always about the kids on the field,” he said. “Never, never shining the light on himself. And that was one of the things that I most admired about him,” Griese added.

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

For more than 50 years Jackson called the action, becoming one of the most beloved play-by-play personalities in the business.

Jackson started calling college football games for ABC Sports in 1966 when the rights to broadcast NCAA football were first acquired, ABC News reported.

He was the first ever play-by-play voice of “Monday Night Football” in 1970. Jackson also worked NBA games, 11 World Series, 10 Winter and Summer Olympics and auto racing, according to the network.

“For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “When you heard his voice, you knew it was a big game. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Turi Ann, and his family.”

Jackson was inducted into the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1994.

Tom Tillison


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