The Rose Bowl is one of those annual moments that makes you ponder New Year’s Day past, and some of the things that are still present, and gone. For several generations, the Rose Bowl remains Keith Jackson.
The legendary sports broadcaster retired several years ago from calling games. These days Jackson, 86, reportedly lives in the Los Angeles area. The return of the Rose Bowl makes so many of us miss him and that unmistakable accent and cadence even more. For many generations Keith Jackson will forever remain the face and voice of college football. He was the best.
Returning to the Rose Bowl is a good chance to tell you Keith Jackson was as decent, polite and kind as you would hope. I had the good fortune to meet and interview him once - at the 2004 Rose Bowl between USC and Michigan.
I approached him as he walked off the elevator at the Rose Bowl Stadium for a question. He said sure, and I thought we were just going to do the interview in the hall. He took a few more steps, looked back to see that I had not moved and motioned with his head to follow him.
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“Come on,” he said.
I was not expecting to walk into the ABC broadcast booth with Keith Jackson and color analyst Dan Fouts. For a little less than 10 minutes, it was just the three of us. I talked to Keith Jackson in the Rose Bowl broadcast booth. OK – that was pretty cool.
I was pretty nervous because this was a man whom I had admired for years, and both that face and voice were just so unmistakable. He was kind, polite and congenial. Fouts was engaging and entertaining.
I didn’t want to take too much of Jackson’s time, but as I thanked him he stopped me and asked, “How is everybody down in Fort Worth?”
I was not expecting that. He had been to For Worth before, and knew long time Fort Worth resident and PGA champ, the late Ben Hogan well.
I thanked him again, and as I left Keith Jackson said, “Nice to meet you Mark.”
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760