Joe Tessitore and Howard Cosell are two of the biggest names to ever grace the announcer’s booth in American professional sports. Although they have different styles and personalities, their careers are quite similar, as well. While Cosell is no longer with us, Tessitore is, in many ways, the heir apparent to a brand that he helped build. It makes sense, as the two have careers that mirror one another in more than one way. spo
Cosell got his start as a legal representative for athletes across the world. His vibrant personality, which grew from a childhood in Brooklyn, made him an ideal candidate for sports broadcasting. He got his start hosting a baseball-themed talk radio show in which little league players interviewed big-league stars. Even then, his opinionated nature made him a stand-out presence in sports.
The toupeed loudmouth took this and made himself into something bigger. Cosell eventually gravitated toward boxing. When Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing to be drafted into the Army, Cosell was by his side defending the greatest boxer of all time. Similarly, he was one of the loudest voices of support for John Carlos and Tommie Smith after their legendary anthem protest during the 1968 Olympics.
After growing disgusted with boxing following a particularly violent fight between Larry Holmes and Tex Cobb, Cosell moved over to football at ABC. Not long after, he served as host of the hit television series Battle of the Network Stars. Years later, he lamented that move and bad-mouthed several former colleagues in a 1985 book. He returned to radio in 1992 but passed away in 1995 following years of poor health.
Cosell’s boxing calls are still among the most famous ever, and his career laid the groundwork to a similar one by his modern equivalent.
Tessitore mirrors Cosell
After playing football at Boston College, Tessitore moved on to other things. Before he was the voice of Monday Night Football, he was a famous boxing announcer. Like Cosell, Tessitore had a signature style that painted the entire picture in a way that those who could not see could easily picture in their minds.
While Cosell loathed Monday Night Football, however, Tessitore found his calling. That same style that helped him explain a boxing match in great detail carried over to an entirely different sport. As the years went on, Tessitore became a staple at Monday Night Football thanks to his much-loved style of commentary.
In 2017, he echoed Cosell again, taking a hosting gig at the short-lived revival of Battle of the Network Stars. That show was a ratings flop, but it served as another feather in Tessitore’s cap and showed how big he was in the sports announcing world. Just 48 years old, despite his longevity in sports media, Tessitore is one of the most prominent voices in the game. While Cosell eventually wore out his welcome in sports media, Tessitore is likely to bounce back onto his feet after being let go from the Monday Night Football booth.
Cose was a fireplug who always spoke his mind. At best, he used this voice to support causes that were greater than himself. At worst, it alienated co-workers and put a target on his back. However, younger audiences who were born after Cosell’s 1995 death likely know who he is because of his legacy, and for all warts on his resume, he left a positive impact on the sporting world.
Tessitore likely has many years ahead of him, but it may not have been possible if Cosell hadn’t laid the groundwork before him. Tessitore’s next move has not been announced. Still, whether he returns to boxing, pivots to college, or returns to the NFL, his signature style will resonate with a new generation of fans who never had the privilege of hearing Cosell before him.