Irv Cross, who spent 9 seasons as an NFL cornerback and later turned the primary Black man to work full-time as a sports activities analyst on nationwide tv, died at 81, CBS Sports activities introduced Sunday night time. Cross thrived whereas working in a number of completely different roles throughout his 23 years at CBS Sports activities.
“All of us at CBS Sports activities are saddened by the information of Irv Cross’ passing,” CBS Sports activities Chairman Sean McManus stated in an announcement. “Irv was a pioneer who made vital contributions to the storied historical past and custom of CBS Sports activities and, together with Phyllis George and Brent Musburger, set the usual for NFL pregame exhibits with THE NFL TODAY. He was a real gentleman and a trailblazer within the sports activities tv business and might be remembered for his accomplishments and the paths he paved for individuals who adopted.”
Cross was born in Hammond, Indiana in 1939, and attended Northwestern College, the place he participated in observe and area and in addition soccer. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles within the seventh spherical of the 1961 NFL Draft, and would spend six years in Philly and three with the Rams earlier than hanging up his cleats following the 1969 season. Cross made two Professional Bowls and picked off 22 passes in his 9 NFL seasons.
After retiring, Cross labored with the Eagles as an assistant coach after which joined CBS in 1971, when he turned the primary Black community sports activities present anchor. CBS Sports activities put collectively a crew of Musburger, George, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder and Cross for THE NFL TODAY present, which made a big affect on how pregame exhibits have been deliberate and executed.
“He knew that it was vital for him to do properly,” stated Clifton Brown, who labored with Cross on his memoir, Bearing the Cross, through the Eagles’ official web site. “Irv knew that if the present had failed, that it’d harm down the street for different Black sportscasters to get an analogous alternative. He was carrying that weight and he did it so fantastically.
“It is only a seamless transition now. We’re simply so used to seeing former athletes on tv. However all of them, notably those that are African-American, whether or not they comprehend it or not, I imagine they owe a debt to Irv Cross.”
In 2009, Cross was named because the recipient of the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Tv Award. This honor is given yearly by the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame, and acknowledges “long-time distinctive contributions to radio and tv in skilled soccer,” in line with its web site.
Humble, hard-working and insightful regardless of which position he was filling, Cross was a tv nice who will definitely be missed.