CANTON, Ohio—In news breaking Tuesday afternoon, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has named ESPN NFL analyst Tom Jackson as the 2015 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, as confirmed in a press release from the organization.
While the rising generation of Denver Broncos fans primarily know Jackson as an ESPN sportscaster and Chris Berman's sidekick on NFL Countdown and later The Blitz, he was one of the key components of the Broncos on-field success in the late 1970s and much of the 1980s.
Since being drafted out of Louisville with the 88th overall pick of the 1973 Draft, Jackson had a 14-year NFL career, all with the Broncos, amassing 20 interceptions (3 of which were returned for scores) and 13 sacks as a 5-foot-11, 220-pound linebacker. Thus, you could say he was the Danny Trevathan prototype, albeit from Trevathan's rival university in the state of Kentucky.
Jackson played for the Broncos in both Super Bowl XII, a 27-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and Super Bowl XXI, a 39-20 loss to the New York Giants, while being named an All-Pro on four occasions, in 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1984, as well as earning three Pro Bowl nods (1977, 1978, 1979).
Beyond all this, though, Jackson realized there was something else he needed to do with his life when he retired.
The Cleveland native decided to go into broadcasting, getting his start on the “Broncos Beat” weekly program airing on KCNC, now known as “CBS-4” in Denver, as well as the postgame show on KUSA-TV, Channel 9, or “9-News.” At this time, Jackson also served as the host of “Behind the Line,” a daily syndicated sports commentary radio show.
Starting in 1987, Jackson teamed with Berman on ESPN's signature NFL programs at the time, NFL Countdown and NFL Primetime, which lasted until 2006, when NBC gained the rights to exclusive NFL highlights in the primetime window leading up to NBC Sunday Night Football.
Currently, Jackson is one of ESPN's premier Super Bowl analysts, as the sports behemoth always sends him to the sites of the NFL championship game to provide insight. Beyond this, he will be on the ESPN panel for their coverage of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday, August 8th.
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The Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award was first issued in 1989 to Bill McPhail, a pioneer sports executive who is known for bringing CBS' coverage of sports into the public eye, and granting the Tiffany Network the rights to the Winter and Summer Olympics, the NBA, the NFL and Major League Baseball, among other events.
Jackson will be the 27th recipient of the award, joining a who's who of sportscasting legends, such as his colleague Berman, the late Pat Summerall and Charlie Jones, Don Criqui, Al Michaels and Lesley Visser, among others.