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Irv Cross, CBS Sports Analyst, Has Died

Irv Cross, an NFL standout who went on to be a game analyst for CBS Sports, died of heart disease in Minnesota Feb. 28. He was 81. 

Irv Cross on The NFL Today on CBS

Irv Cross (right) on The NFL Today on CBS (Image credit: CBS Sports)

Cross was the first Black full-time television analyst for a network sports show, according to the New York Times

"All of us at CBS Sports are saddened by the news of Irv Cross' passing," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement on ESPN.com. "Irv was a pioneer who made significant contributions to the storied history and tradition of CBS Sports and, along with Phyllis George and Brent Musburger, set the standard for NFL pregame shows with The NFL Today." 

Cross played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams. After four years as a game analyst at CBS Sports, he was promoted to pregame show The NFL Today, where he spent 15 years. Cross worked alongside Brent Musberger, Phyllis George and Jimmy Snyder on the show. 

After Cross left the program, he went back to being a game analyst at CBS Sports. 

Cross grew up in Hammond, Indiana. He was a wide receiver and defensive back at Northwestern. Playing with the Eagles, he made the NFL’s Pro Bowl in 1964 and 1965. After five seasons with the Eagles, he was traded to the Rams. He played in Los Angeles for three years before returning for one more year in Philadelphia. 

While playing in Philadelphia, Cross was a weekend TV sports anchor. 

After his television career, Cross was an athletic director at Idaho State University and Macalester College. 

The Times said Cross, who sustained numerous concussions in his playing career, will donate his brain to the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center. 

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.