Sports broadcaster Keith Jackson dead at 89

Jackson worked for ABC Sports for 50 years. More

Jackson worked for ABC Sports for 50 years. More

If there was a big game being played on ABC, Keith Jackson's voice would likely be behind the microphone. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence. At his peak, he was associated with the sport nearly as strongly as any player or coach.

Tributes continue to pour in for Keith Jackson.

But the phrase most associated with Jackson is one even he seemed a bit baffled by.

"Punts are "tail draggers, ' interior linemen are "big uglies down in the trenches, ' and any rainstorm of effect is a "gully washer, '" William Taaffe wrote".

He would describe an especially rough game as a "slobber knocker" in which the players were "rockin' and a-sockin' and a-whackin' and a-crackin'".

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The Rose Bowl named their radio and television spaces after Jackson in 2015. Jackson's most popular catchphrase was "Whoa, Nellie" but very rarely said it during game broadcasts, if at all.

Los Angeles Times columnist BillPlaschke wrote this about Jackson when he interviewed the legend a decade after he stepped away from the broadcast booth.

So after news of Jackson's death became public, sports broadcasters and journalists paid tribute to him on Twitter. "Whoa, Nellie" and Jackson were synonymous, but Jackson was never sure why.

"I would go around and pluck things off the bush and see if I could find a different way to say some things".

Jackson grew up near Carrollton, Ga., picking cotton and plowing his poor family's farm.

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Born in Roopville, Georgia, on October 18, 1928, Jackson was also the first play-by-play broadcaster for "Monday Night Football" when it debuted in 1970 and covered a wide range of sports.

Jackson, a longtime resident of Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Pender Harbor, British Columbia, Canada, is survived by Turi Ann, his wife of 63 years. He attended Washington State College with the intent to study police and political science, but graduated in 1954 with a degree in broadcast journalism, learning his trade in the same studios that produced Edward R. Murrow, among others in the broadcast industry. He was the first play-by-play man of Monday Night Football. Frank Gifford replaced him the next season.

The college football world lost its most prominent voice on Friday night. "You're Mr. College Football'". He called the first BCS National Championship Game between Tennessee and Florida State as his apparent last game.

When Jackson retired 12 years ago, he told the New York Times, "I'm 77 and I feel it", adding he hated the on-air mistakes that started to creep into his usually flawless work.

By 1952, Mr. Jackson was calling Washington State games on the school station.

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