My early memories of watching the National Football League (NFL) on Sundays often involved the cast of NFL Today. They were the experts on analyzing NFL teams and players. Of the cast on NFL Today, Irv Cross was the very definition of class. He was a true professional which is honestly lacking with today’s NFL shows.
Irvin Acie Cross passed away on Sunday.
Irv Cross was the first African American sports analyst on national television. He joined CBS in 1971 and worked with the network until 1994.
Cross was a professional football player in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1961-1965. He was selected for the Pro Bowl twice. In 1966 he was traded the Los Angeles Rams where he played for three seasons. He finished his NFL career with the Eagles in 1969.
At his cornerback position, Cross had 22 interceptions during his career for 258 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also had 14 fumble recoveries.
During his playing career, Cross did drive-time sports reports in Philadelphia before doing weekend sportscasts. In 1971 he became a sports analyst for CBS. In 1975, Cross joined Brent Musburger and Phyllis George on NFL Today.
I recall Cross as being a professional and classy reporter. He was never gimmicky or tried to make any report about himself. Many of today’s sports reporter personalities could learn from Cross. He was a no nonsense reporter who you knew you could trust.
Here’s a clip of Cross from NFL Today.
Cross left broadcasting and later served as athletic director at Idaho State University and then was the director of athletics at Macalester College. He went on to become the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota until May 2010. He returned to football commentary for a local FOX station in St. Paul.
Cross received Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2009. He was the first Black recipient of the annual award, which seeks to recognize longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.
In 2018, he was diagnosed with dementia which was thought to be due to concussions he had received during his NFL career.
Cross was a pioneer in his day but he was also a gentleman. There will never be another like him.