Irv Cross, Star NFL Defensive Back and the First Black American to Work Full-time as an Analyst on National TV, Dies at 81

Long before cable and the plethora of studio shows, there was “The NFL Today” on CBS. The pregame show featured, among others, Brent Musburger, Irv Cross, Jack Whitaker, Phyllis George, Jimmy the Greek and Jayne Kennedy through the years.

It was must-see TV for every NFL fan.

CBS and the Philadelphia Eagles announced Cross had passed away at the age of 81. He died Sunday morning near his home in Roseville, Minnesota.

“I’ve been around all kinds of people, from every walk of life. I don’t know that I could give you one person who was nicer than Irv Cross. He was a constant gentleman,” said Musburger, who worked with Cross and others on the first live NFL pregame show that set the standard that is still followed today.

Cross, a defensive back, played nine seasons in the NFL after being a seventh-round draft pick out of Northwestern in 1961. Cross played six of those seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (1961-65, 1969) and three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams (1966-68). He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and recorded 22 interceptions during his career.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Barry Werner