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Keith Jackson (born October 18, 1928) is an American sportscaster, known for his several decades of work with the ABC television network.
Jackson was born in Roopville, Georgia and is a long-time resident of California. After a stint in the Marines, he attended Washington State University.
It was at Washington State, in the 1950s, that his career as a broadcaster began.
Monday Night Football
In 1970, Jackson was chosen to be the first play-by-play announcer on Monday Night Football, performing this role only during the program's first season. In 1971, he was supplanted in that role by Frank Gifford (who was at the time, considered by ABC to have more star power than Jackson), who had been hired away from rival CBS.
Over the years, Jackson has been paired with a wide variety of commentators, including perhaps most notably University of Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, a former football coach, and pro football legend Bob Griese. For many years, he was assigned by ABC to the primary national game of the week. His quirky expressions such as "Whoa, Nellie!" and "Fum-BLE!" are often the subject of attempts at comedic imitation and have been diputed as stolen from former colleages. He called the offensive and defensive line players The Big Uglies. He is credited with coining the name The Big House for the University of Michigan's Michigan Stadium.
In 1990's, Jackson recorded videos for the centennial of the Alabama Crimson Tide. In 2006, Jackson became the voice behind the Nebraska Cornhuskers' "Tunnel Walk" video. This video is played before every home game at Memorial Stadium.
Non-college football related assignments
Though best known for his college football broadcasts, Jackson announced numerous other sports for ABC throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, boxing, auto racing, and the Olympic Games. Jackson also served as the anchor for ABC's coverage of Super Bowl XXII in 1988. Keith Jackson's most notable non-college football assignment was, arguably, his calling (alongside Tim McCarver) the now famous 16-inning long sixth game of the 1986 National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and Houston Astros.
Jackson was involved in the ABC coverage of the 1972 Summer Olympics and continued to contribute even when an attack by Palestinian terrorists turned the coverage away from being primarily sports coverage to that of a news event
Jackson announced his first retirement from college football at the end of the 1998 season and his intention to live full-time at his home in California, with his last broadcast to have been the 1999 Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship between Tennessee and Florida State. He rescinded this decision the following fall and began to do a more limited schedule of games, teamed with Dan Fouts, almost exclusively sticking to venues on the West Coast, closer to his current home in British Columbia. One of the notable exceptions was the 2003 Michigan-Ohio State game, the 100th meeting between the two archrivals. Jackson decided to retire for good on April 27, 2006, with a phone call to the New York Times. "I'm finished with play-by-play forever," he stated. His last game call was the 2006 Rose Bowl featuring Texas vs. USC for the BCS National Championship.
Jackson has had a minor career as an actor, either playing himself (as on a famous episode of Coach) or a sportscaster like himself, as in The Fortune Cookie (1966). He has also appeared in and/or narrated several sports documentaries. His play-by-play of the 1977 World Series is used in the background of the Spike Lee film, Summer of Sam (1999). Jackson once parodied his broadcast persona for a Bud Light beer commercial. His latest commercial efforts are for Shoney's, a chain of family-style restaurants well-known in the Southeast, especially in his native Georgia, and for recent "the legend of Gatorade" ads. He also participated in blending paid commercial advertisements and bona-fide sports coverage by acknowledging a joking reference to his endorsement of Gatorade during the 2006 Rose Bowl, an apparently-free product placement of Gatorade during live coverage. (Pepsi is the sponsor of another BCS game the Fiesta Bowl.) In 2006, he also was shown in a commercial for Ice Breakers' Ice Cubes with Hilary Duff, Haylie Duff, and Joey Lawrence, contributing his famous line "Whoa, Nellie!"
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