Friday, May 6, 2011

Look at That Little Monkey Run! - Howard Cosell

Howard Cosell: A much-neglected and misunderstood media giant
who created his own mold, and then broke it when he was finished.
Howard Cosell has yet to win the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.
See: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Sports Illustrated Article
Howard Cosell is a legendary sportscaster who rose to celebrity pop culture status and changed the course of sports in America. Two of the more well-known trademark catchphrases of Howard Cosell were "What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular" and "I'm just telling it like it is." That is just what this web site attempts to do here as well... tell it like it is. Howard Cosell was a successful lawyer, a good family man and inarguably the "lightning rod" of Monday Night Football. There are far too many factual errors in Internet forums, blogs, books, and other media forms. The goal of this website blog is to clarify "WHAT" Howard Cosell said, and "WHEN" he said it. Howard Cosell made at least four "little monkey" comments, but it is important to put those comments in proper context. He often fondly referred to his own grandchildren using words like "little monkey" as terms of endearment for them. The comments that included the term "little monkey" were made in different games, about white and black players, in different decades, with entirely different media reactions. When you are done reading you can, return here to leave a Comment.

"Little Monkey" Comments Timeline (1970-1983)

Mike Adamle
Glenn Hubbard
Alvin Garrett

QUESTION: What player was Howard Cosell really talking about when he said "Look at that little monkey run!" (People answer this question incorrectly 99.9% of the time)


1. Howard Cosell used the phrase "little monkey" as a term of endearment and began affectionately referring to his own grandchildren as "little monkeys" from the time they were able to walk and playfully scramble around.

2. In 1972 Howard Cosell said, "That little monkey --- you know, the theorem was that he was too small for pro football" referring to white Kansas City Chiefs running back Mike Adamle after a short off-tackle run in the fourth quarter of the July 29, 1972 "Hall of Fame" game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton Ohio.

3. In 1973 Howard Cosell said "Look at that little monkey run!" about Herb Mul-key of the Washington Redskins referring to his 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Mul-Key's touchdown occurred during the game played on Sunday, but the comment was not made until the next evening by Cosell on Monday Night Football, (New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys) September 24, 1973 during his "Halftime Highlights" voice-over game recaps.

4. In 1982, Cosell called white Atlanta Braves second baseman Glenn Hubbard a "little monkey" while praising his fielding skills, saying "That little monkey can really pick it."

5. In 1983 Howard Cosell said, "Joe Gibbs wanted that kid, and that little monkey gets loose doesn't he" when referring to Washington Redskins wide receiver Alvin Garrett after his sixth pass reception with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter during an ABC Monday Night Football (MNF) game on September 5th, 1983 between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.

6. Howard Cosell never said "Look at that little monkey run!" about running back Joe Washington during the September 18, 1978 Monday night game between the Colts @ Patriots or in any other game.

7. Howard Cosell never said, "Look at that little monkey run" about Washington Redskins wide-receiver Alvin Garrett during an ABC Monday Night Football (MNF) game on September 5th, 1983 between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.

8. Howard Cosell did NOT get fired for any of his "little monkey" comments. The decision to retire from ABC Monday Night Football was his due to a combination of his waning interest in football broadcasts, frustration with relentless print media criticisms, and a desire to spend less time on-the-road, and more time at home with the family.


Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, and Don Meredith made ABC's Monday Night Football memorable, and the memories of those early years of ABC's Monday Night Football are still widely talked about. The legendary sports broadcasting trio of Cosell, Meredith, and Gifford remains larger than life. A unique chemistry existed among them, often with a tension in the booth that equaled that of the playing field combatants. Over the years enemies became friends, and friend became enemies. It was that volatile chemistry of early personalities from 1970-1983 that made ABC Monday Night Football legendary.

Cosell became a legendary figure because he was admittedly verbose, arrogant, egotistical, and outspoken about controversial issues. Add to these attributes his intelligence, work ethic, commitment, and ability to entertain us and you have the definition of Howard Cosell.

Cosell turned Monday Night Football into a mainstream event that is now part of American pop culture by venturing where few others in the sports media had the courage to go. Cosell entertained his audience as part linguist and part word-smith with a distinctive staccato delivery that demanded the audience's attention. People who speak out on issues as Cosell did invariably pay a price for their courage. Howard Cosell was more than a reporter, he was a purveyor of truth, unafraid to offend those who would take offense. Cosell had such courage whether its was a discussion of athletes of color in sports, free-agency, illegal drugs in sports, anti-trust laws, player strikes, owners unjustly moving teams, increasing fan violence, or parity in the NFL. Cosell was an advocate of the fans, and despite pressures from a powerful NFL hierarchy, Cosell maintained his social sense of purpose, and his conservative belief in basic American rights, such as due process and freedom of speech. One of his most famous and enduring catchphrases was, "I'm just telling it like it is." Seriously, were people expecting anything less? He was after all, the one and only - Howard Cosell, an iconic legend of sports-broadcasting and sports-journalism.

Football might not be what it is today without Howard Cosell

Cosell was an iconic combination of pioneering sports journalist, color commentator and broadcast legend. True sports enthusiasts remember Howard Cosell for many different reasons. To some Cosell is remembered for his notable commentary covering Muhammad Ali and the world of boxing at large, and still others for Cosell's interviewing John Lennon of the Beatles during a MNF game on December 9th, 1974, and almost exactly six years later, sadly announcing Lennon's death during another MNF game on December 8th, 1980. The exciting manner with which Cosell delivered his weekly "Halftime Highlights" recap of Sunday's games from the day before is still viewed with reverence in the sports broadcasting industry today. Hollywood actors and actresses, governors, and Presidents would seek out Cosell in the ABC broadcast booth just for an interview. Howard Cosell likely interviewed more professional athletes than any other sportscaster in history. Who else but Cosell had interviews with the great NFL players and coaches like Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Fran Tarkenton, Franco Harris, O.J. Simpson, Don Shula, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and many others.

Howard Cosell had a strong civil-rights record. It has already been proven that his "little monkey" comments had nothing to do with racism. Cosell was a staunch supporter of all athletes including Curt Flood, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Arthur Ashe, Muhammed Ali, and John Carlos/Tommy Smith (1968 Olympics) among others. We are not likely to experience this same level of color-commentary genius ever again. As Howard Cosell would say, that's "Telling it like it is."

"He's a seminal figure not only in sports, but all of television."
--Dick Ebersol, former president of NBC Sports

"If Howard said, `I'm going to get the newspaper,' it sounded like an exciting event."
-- Producer, director, Woody Allen

"Howard Cosell was Monday Night Football. Without Howard Cosell, there was no Monday Night Football."
-- Chet Forte, former Director of ABC Monday Night Football

"No one has had a greater impact on sportscasting and television sports journalism."
-- George Steinbrenner, N.Y. Yankees

"When the complete book on sportscasting in the 20th Century is composed, Howard Cosell has earned the longest chapter. His influence in sportscasting has been profound."
-- Sportscaster, Dick Enberg

"If Howard Cosell picked you for a Monday Night Football highlight, you were big."
-- Matt Millen

"Cosell is the franchise. He may also be the most valuable property in American sports. There's no question that Howard Cosell was the most important sports journalist of our time, and because so much of what he did transcended sports, he was one of the most important journalists... period."
-- Sports Journalist, SportsWorld Magazine, Robert Lipsyte

"I remember him as someone who was an important journalistic figure, and I think to deny that is to let your prejudices get in the way."
-- Author, Frank Deford

"He became a giant by the simple act of telling the truth in an industry that was not used to hearing it and considered it revolutionary."
-- Monday Night Football Creator and former President of ABC Sports, Roone Arledge

Howard was a true original. He rose like a screeching comet and left a trail that no modern broadcaster has ever dared to follow. There will never be another like him.
-- NFL Films, Steve Sabol

"He was a fine gentleman."
-- Russ Francis, receiver, former New England Patriots

"I found him to be genuine in his compassion. I'll never forget him for that."
-- Daryl Stingley, former New England Patriots

"Howard Cosell was a colorful guy. The broadcaster's death is a sad day for sports. I did not, and do not, take exception to anything he said about me in the broadcast. Matter of fact, I am pleased that he singled me out for such favorable attention."
-- Washington Redskins wide-receiver, Alvin Garrett

"Howard Cosell was a good man and he lived a good life. I have been interviewed by many people, but I enjoyed interviews with Howard the best. We always put on a good show. I hope to meet him one day in the hereafter. I can hear Howard now saying, Muhammad, you're not the man you used to be. I pray that he is in God's hands. I will miss him."
-- Former heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali 


"It's just monkey business"
Pregame commentary (September 11, 1983)

"What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular."
-- Howard Cosell

"Every person working in sports journalism today owes a tremendous debt to Howard Cosell. His greatest contribution was elevating sports reporting out of daily play-by-play and placing it in the larger context of society."
-- Roone Arledge, former President of ABC Sports

This website is deemed to be 100% factual and authoritative with reference to Howard Cosell's comments.

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