Legendary sports broadcaster Keith Jackson died late Friday night, according to ESPN. He was 89 years old.
Jackson, who is widely regarded as the voice of college football for many generations of football fans, retired from the booth in 2006 after calling games for more than 50 years of his life.
“For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football,” Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company said. “When you heard his voice, you knew it was a big game. Keith was a true gentleman and a memorable presence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Turi Ann, and his family.”
Jackson got his start in broadcasting in 1952 at Washington State games. His folksy down-to-earth manner of calling games — with sayings like “Whoa, Nellie” and “Big Uglies” — made him one of the most popular play-by-play broadcasters ever.
“That big smiling face, and just the thrill and the love he had for doing college football,” Bob Griese, who worked with Jackson shared. “He did it for a long, long time. … He never intruded on the game. It was always about the kids on the field. Never, never shining the light on himself. And that was one of the things that I most admired about him.”
In addition to college football, he worked NFL and NBA games, summer and winter Olympics, world series and traveled to more than 3o countries as part of “Wide World of Sports.” He was also the very first voice of “Monday Night Football” when it debuted in 1970.
Jackson was inducted into the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1994 and in 1999 was awarded the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Gold Medal.