Broadcast Pioneer and Former Eagles CB Irv Cross Passes Away

He was drafted in 1961 after a standout career at Northwestern and spent most of his career with the Eagles
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More people may be more familiar with Irv Cross the broadcaster than Irv Cross the football player, depending on how old of a person you are.

Cross passed away early Sunday morning at the age of 81 early near his home in Roseville, Minn.

Cross was drafted in the seventh round back in 1961 out of Northwestern, where he was a member of legendary coach Ara Parseghian's first recruiting class there.

In college, Cross was a receiver and cornerback. He had speed and was a punishing tackler as a captain of the 1960 Wildcats and All-Big Ten selection.

Cross played six years with the Eagles, eventually earning back-to-back Pro Bowl bids before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams. He returned to the Eagles in 1969 as a player/defensive backs coach and remained as a coach in 1970.

Cross finished with 22 interceptions, 16 of those coming during his time with the Eagles, including five in 1962 and two that he returned for touchdowns, one in 1964 with Philadelphia and another in 1966 with the Rams.

It was in 1975 when Cross got a break in broadcasting, forming a team with Brent Musberger, Phyllis George, and Jimmy the Greek for the first NFL pregame show.

The show, known as “The NFL Today,” became the standard for shows just like it to follow. It was back in the days before ESPN and cable television.

“I’ve been around all kinds of people, from every walk of life,” said Musberger, on the Eagles’ website. “I don’t know that I could give you one person who was nice than Irv Cross. He was a constant gentleman.”

Cross was on The NFL Today for 14 years and spent 23 years total with CBS Sports. He was the first Black recipient of the Pete Rozelle Award in 2009 and is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The eighth of 15 children, Cross was born and raised in Hammond, Ind., but loved Philadelphia.

According to the story on the Eagles’ site, Cross’s son Matthew was only allowed to be an Eagles fan growing up and it was Matthew who attended the 2017 NFC Championship game because Cross was unable to attend.

The story said that Matthew called his father to relive the blowout win over the Minnesota Vikings that put the Eagles in the Super Bowl and Matthew said his father was so overcome with emotion that he began singing the team’s fight song, “Fly Eagles Fly.”

Musberger said the last time he spoke to Cross was leading up to that Super Bowl LII, won by the Eagles. Musberger said he thought the New England Patriots would win easily, but Cross gave him plenty of reasons why the Eagles had a chance.

Cross is survived by his wife, Liz, and four children, a grandson, and several other family members.

Donations in his name can be sent to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation or the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.