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MORNING BRIEFING

Karras Had Another Version of What Happened in the Booth

August 14, 1991|STEVE SPRINGER

Sportscaster Howard Cosell prides himself on "telling it like it is." But Cosell can't take much pride in Alex Karras' attempt to tell it like he thought it was.

Karras is coming out with a comic novel featuring some characters that may seem familiar to fans of ABC's "Monday Night Football." He writes in "Tuesday Night Football" of two men who many say could easily pass for Cosell and Frank Gifford, his old Monday night partners.

Haywood Grueller is "a pompous, verbose, toupeed announcer who can't deliver a simple, declarative sentence, although he can talk nonstop for 100 words or so," Karras writes.

And Lance Allgood, football's chief play-by-play announcer, is a "former jock and all-American boy who just can't say no to the endless parade of . . . women that follows him from city to city."

Steven Schragis, publisher of Carol Publishing Group, which is to release the book Sept. 2, told New York magazine that Cosell is taking the novel with good humor.

But a spokesman for Gifford told the magazine: "Don't you have anything better to do with your time?"

Trivia time: Monday Night Football began in 1970 with Cosell, Don Meredith and a play-by-play announcer other than Gifford. Name him

Who goofed? I've got to know: In the mid-70s, Meredith ended his first tour of duty on the show, to be gave replaced by former player Fred (The Hammer) Williamson.

Williamson only lasted for three exhibition games.

He didn't help his cause with the following on-the-air comment about a botched running play: "Even an old cripple like you could have made yardage through that hole, Howard."

Cosell on the defense: Shots at the longtime network broadcaster are nothing new. In his just-released book, "Football's Greatest Insults," Kevin Nelson quotes comedian Buddy Hackett saying, "There have always been mixed emotions about Howard Cosell. Some people hate him like poison. And some people hate him just regular."

Cosell on the offense: He could always give as good as he took. After losing to Muhammad Ali in 1974, George Foreman tried to regain his luster by fighting five men in one night. The evening turned into a farce that would make Wrestlemania look respectable.

At one point, with Foreman between fights against opponents few have ever heard of, several handlers got into their own battle in the middle of the ring.

Watching this spectacle, Cosell told his audience, "There you have it ladies and gentlemen, the human condition at its lowest ebb."

Add media: Broadcasters aren't the only targets of athletes. Nelson also quotes the late Norm Van Brocklin, former pro football quarterback and coach, talking about his brain surgery.

"It was a brain transplant," Van Brocklin said. "I got a sportswriter's brain so I could be sure I had one that hadn't been used."

Media strikes back: When he was playing for the Angels, the knock on Rod Carew was that his impressive hit totals never resulted in enough runs driven in.

Before one game, a slightly overweight sportswriter trudged through the Angel locker room.

"Why don't you try mixing in a salad once in awhile," Carew yelled from his stall.

Without blinking, the reporter shot back, "Why don't you try mixing in an RBI."

Trivia answer: Keith Jackson.

Quotebook: Don Meredith once describing his former coach, Tom Landry: "He's a perfectionist. If he was married to Raquel Welch, he'd expect her to cook."

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