Home / World News / Keith Jackson, sportscaster with “Whoa, Nelly!” name, dies – The Denver Post

Keith Jackson, sportscaster with “Whoa, Nelly!” name, dies – The Denver Post

SHERMAN OAKS, Keith Jackson, whose signature phrases like “Whoa, Nelly!” made him the down-home voice of college football during more than five decades as a sportscaster, has died. He was 89.

Jackson died Friday, according to a statement Saturday by ESPN, which consolidated with ABC Sports, Jackson’s longtime employer. No cause or place of death was given. Jackson was a longtime resident of Sherman Oaks, California, and Pender Harbor, British Columbia.

Jackson covered many sports, but he was best known for college football. A native of rural west Georgia, his smooth baritone voice and use of phrases like “big uglies” for linemen gave his game calls a familiar feel.

He might be best known for his “Whoa, Nelly!” exclamation, but he didn’t overuse it during games. Borrowed from his great-grandfather, a farmer, the phrase was also part of a commercial Jackson did for Miller Lite in the mid-’90s.

In a Fox Sports interview in 2013, Jackson said his folksy language stemmed from his rural upbringing and he became comfortable with the usage through the years.

“I would go around and pluck things off the bush and see if I could find a different way to say some things. And the older I got the more willing I was to go back into the Southern vernacular because some of it’s funny,” Jackson said.

Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive of The Walt Disney Co., said listeners “knew it was a big game” when they heard Jackson’s voice.

“For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football,” Iger said.

Jackson’s death comes just three weeks after that of another sportscasting titan — Dick Enberg, known for his own excited calls of “Oh, my!” during a 60-year career.

Today’s college football broadcasters paid tribute to Jackson on social media.

Kirk Herbstreit said in a tweet that Jackson was “everyone’s favorite CFB broadcaster.”

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