Irv Cross, former NFL star and broadcast pioneer, dies at 81


Former NFL star turned longtime football analyst Irv Cross died over the weekend at age 81, according to the Philadelphia Eagles, one of his former teams.

Cross, who became the first Black full-time analyst with CBS Sports after an impressive playing career that included two Pro Bowl nods, passed away on Sunday at his home in Roseville, Minnesota, his son confirmed, the Associated Press reported.

After a nine-year playing career with the Eagles and Los Angeles Rams, Cross became a fixture on CBS' seminal "The NFL Today" show in the 1970s, along with Brent Musburger, Phyllis George, and later Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder.

Cross served up his analysis on NFL broadcasts for 14 years beginning in 1975, before his retirement in 1989. He was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's broadcasting wing with the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2009.

The Indiana native played his college ball at Northwestern -- where he also starred in track and field -- under legendary college coach Ara Parseghian, and was drafted by the Eagles in the seventh round in 1961.

Cross' professional career ended with 22 interceptions, 14 fumbles recovered, and two defensive touchdowns scored.

Musburger took to social media to pay tribute to his "friend."

“Irv was one of the finest gentleman I’ve been with,” Musburger said on Twitter. “We met at Northwestern where Irv played both ways for Coach Parseghian, He later became my go-to mainstay on the NFL TODAY. No one ever had a bad thing to say about Irv. He led the way for African Americans to host NFL and other sports shows. Rest in peace my friend.”

CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus called Cross a "pioneer" and a "true gentleman."

“All of us at CBS Sports are saddened by the news of Irv Cross’ passing," McManus said in a statement. “Irv was a pioneer who made significant contributions to the storied history and tradition of CBS Sports and, along with Phyllis George and Brent Musburger, set the standard for NFL pregame shows with `The NFL Today.′ He was a true gentleman and a trail blazer in the sports television industry and will be remembered for his accomplishments and the paths he paved for those who followed.”

Cross is survived by his wife Liz, four children, and several grandchildren.

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