Irv Cross, ‘NFL Today’ analyst, Pro Bowl cornerback dies at age 81

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Irv Cross

Irv Cross, former NFL on CBS ‘NFL Today’ analyst and NFL cornerback, has died at the age of 81.

The former Philadelphia Eagle and Los Angeles Ram had been suffering with mild cognitive dementia since 2018. Cross intended to donate his brain to Boston University in order for researchers to see if he had CTE, a brain disease that has been found in other late NFL players.

The two-time Pro Bowler retired at the end of the 1969 season after his final stint with the Eagles. In 1971, CBS Sports hired Cross as a commentator during live play-by-play. In 1975, he became part of CBS’s “NFL Today” pregame show, the first of its kind in sports broadcasting as it was a live pregame show. Cross was part of a cast of characters that included Brent Musburger, Phyllis George, and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

In 2009, Cross was the first Black recipient of the Pete Rozelle Award, which is given to individuals, “for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.” Cross was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus referred to Irv Cross as a “pioneer” and said all of CBS Sports was “saddened” to hear of Cross’ passing.

“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,” McManus said in a statement. “He was a true gentleman and a trailblazer in the sports television industry and will be remembered for his accomplishments and the paths he paved for those who followed.”

Cross is survived by his wife Liz and four children. Cross was born in Hammond, Indiana, and was an alumnus of Northwestern.