Cosell Contradicts Arledge’s Testimony
Howard Cosell said Wednesday at the trial of the USFL’s $1.69-billion antitrust suit against the NFL that he had been told by his former boss at ABC that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle was unhappy with the network for giving the USFL a television contract.
Cosell’s testimony contradicted earlier testimony from Roone Arledge, who said Rozelle had never expressed displeasure over the network doing business with the USFL.
Cosell described a 1984 meeting with Arledge, then the head of ABC news and sports, at which Arledge described Rozelle’s feelings about the USFL.
“Roone said to me,” Cosell testified, “ ‘You know, you’ve got to understand. Pete is all over me on the grounds that I’m sustaining the USFL with the spring contract.’ ”
Cosell testified for 3 1/2 hours and often provoked long outbursts of laughter in the packed courtroom by using some of the words, phrases and figures of speech that made him an institution on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” telecasts.
The television issue is critical to the trial--the USFL alleges that the NFL pressured the three major networks into denying it a contract for its switch to the fall and is asking that the established league be thrown off at least one network.
Cosell, who no longer is a commentator or broadcaster for ABC-TV, was the USFL’s final witness. The NFL will begin its case today by calling former USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons.