Whoa Nellie! America's Stadium to Honor One of the Most Iconic Broadcasters in History

Published : Friday, November 15, 2019 | 8:05 AM

One of the most iconic broadcasters in sports history, Keith Jackson, will be celebrated with a statue in front of the Rose Bowl Stadium just weeks before the 106th annual Rose Bowl Game.

As a beloved American sports commentator, author, journalist and radio personality with hall of fame credentials, the late Jackson will have his statue revealed amidst family, friends and fans on Saturday, December 14 at 11:00 am.

In Pasadena, Jackson notably called the most Rose Bowl Games in history (15) and nicknamed the famed-annual bowl game as the ‘Granddaddy of Them All’ as the first postseason college football bowl game in the sport’s history. His booming voice, which is forever etched in the minds of college football fans and sports fans everywhere is one of the most iconic to ever hit the airwaves.

“Anyone who had the privilege of chatting with Keith for a while knew that the Rose Bowl was one of his favorite places on this planet,” said Keith’s wife, Turi Ann Jackson. “I can’t think of a better figure to welcome guests to all the pageantry and tradition that is the Rose Bowl. May you always enter its gate with the same excitement that he had on game day.”

The commemorative statue will depict Jackson, one of America’s greatest sports broadcasters and a Rose Bowl Stadium treasure, standing in his iconic game day pose in a suit jacket with microphone in hand. The microphone will bear the Rose Bowl Game logo to appropriately represent his key history with calling one of the most iconic football games each season, on New Year’s Day. It will be located outside of the main gate to America’s Stadium on the eastern side of the Rose Bowl Brick Plaza. The historic Rose Bowl marquee and the vista of the San Gabriel Mountains will be the statue’s backdrop.

This will be the third commemorative statue on the Rose Bowl Stadium’s site, to date. The first commemorative statue on the campus was the football statue of Jackie Robinson (dedicated in November 2017) followed by the second honoring Brandi Chastain and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Champions, dedicated on the 20th anniversary of the historic match on July 10, 2019.

On behalf of the Rose Bowl Stadium and donors of this project, we are excited to honor a man who is so iconic to the legacy of college football,” said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Darryl Dunn. This statue will stand for generations to come and we hope he would be delighted to know that his presence will be at America’s Stadium.”

This statue is a gift from more than 120 generous donors who supported the effort with gifts to the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, a 501c3 organization that supports the preservation, protection and enhancement of the Rose Bowl Stadium’s future as a National Historic Landmark. A Pasadena company, Sharp Seating, which has been heavily involved in the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game for decades, was the lead contributor. Gifts from the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, the Big Ten Conference and the Pac-12 Conference are also noted as some of the main contributors. The majority of the donors came from a nationwide crowdfunding campaign to overwhelmingly fund the project in memory of Keith. The crowdfunding effort is believed to be one of the largest such campaigns in the history of sports/entertainment philanthropy.

“This crowdfunding effort is a perfect example of people getting behind an idea on a national level,” said crowdfunding expert Kendall Almerico. “Keith was an icon to so many people and the crowdfunding effort reflected their love for protecting his legacy with this statue in Pasadena.”

The commemorative statue will be sculpted by renowned artist, Brian Hanlon of Hanlon Sculpture Studios in Toms River, New Jersey along with key guidance from the Jackson family. Hanlon also sculpted the prior two statues on the Rose Bowl site.

Jackson’s legacy has been an important part of the Rose Bowl Stadium’s heritage even prior to the announcement of the statue. In 2015, the Legacy Foundation named the venue’s top level, its broadcast center, after Keith Jackson. Musician Kenny Chesney was the lead contributor to the project citing the positive memories Keith provided to him as a young football fan. Jackson’s celebration of life was also held on the stadium’s iconic turf following his passing in early 2018. At the time, Robert A. Iger, the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC
and employed Jackson for the majority of his career said, “For generations of fans, Keith was college football.”

With a career spanning over fifty years, Keith’s voice is synonymous with sports. Jackson is remembered for his love of the game’s pageantry and his Georgia-rooted, country boy tone flourished on autumn Saturdays. He maintained an old-fashioned, wide-eyed love for the college game, even christening another famous stadium in Ann Arbor as “the Big House” during his time in the booth. His final career broadcast was the iconic 2006 BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl between the Texas Longhorns and USC Trojans.

A graduate of Washington State University and also a Marine, Keith also worked at 10 Summer and Winter Olympics and on “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” He was the play-by-play man for the inaugural season of the NFL’s “Monday Night Football” next to Howard Cosell and Don Meredith, and was at the microphone for baseball, pro and college basketball, golf and auto racing. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Mr. Jackson sportscaster of the year five consecutive times, from 1972 to 1976, which earned him a spot in its Hall of Fame. The American Football Coaches Association awarded him its Amos Alonzo Stagg Award in 1993 as an individual “whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football.” He is a Gold Medal Award winner, the highest honor given by the National Football Foundation, and is also a member of the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

“Keith was a friend to many and taught us so much about the game of college football and sports in general. For so many of us, it is because of Keith’s expressive dedication to sports that we still follow so fanatically today,” said Rose Bowl Stadium Chief Development Officer Dedan Brozino. “The statue will continue that legacy so that fans from around the world can salute Keith’s iconic voice and heartwarming presence every time they visit Pasadena.”

Having hosted two Olympics, two World Cup Finals, five Super Bowls, and countless first-class entertainment moments, the Rose Bowl Stadium is a walking museum of sports and entertainment excellence. Many of its most historic moments have been memorialized in various public areas at the Rose Bowl through a museum, historic photos, paintings, historic timelines and statues.

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