40 Years Ago Tonight Howard Cosell Broke the News to America That John Lennon Had Been Murdered Outside His Apartment Building
Howard Cosell and John Lennon during halftime of Rams-Washington Football Team game on December 9th, 1974.
As a minor league historian, I'm fascinated by what topics and issues of my lifetime will be covered in the history chromebooks generations from now; if there even are generations from now.
9/11 is a shoo-in. I'm sure the new 1968 that is 2020 will get a paragraph or two, but in a much less polarizing sense, I am curious as to what inventions/innovations/customs/trends/pop culture events etc. will be deemed historically relevant or significant 100 years from now.
After Blu Rays vs HD-DVDs: the last great format war; one thing that I think will be definitely be covered in the computer chip that gets shoved in your brain at birth, after your laser circumcision is the Information Age. During my lifetime (which is exactly a week away from reaching 29 years) the internet went from a horse and buggy to spaceX. The information superhighway has made communication almost instantaneous.
I was alive during beepers, but I still don't really get what they actually did. We went from not being able to use our house phone when dialed up to the interweb to yelling at our cell phone to play "No Scrubs" by TLC or get directions to pick up a new doggo at a no kill animal shelter. People used to always have to type www. before EVERYTHING. Now you don't even need to put .com, your computer probably already knows what you're gonna search after two letters. Pr-operty Sex again I see?
Think about how much technology has changed in even the last 10 years. The ways we communicate have progressed past capitalism. Think about how greedy every corporation is for a moment. These are the people behind the monetization of water. Remember when phone companies used to charge PER TEXT? I got yelled constantly for going over the 300 texts I was allotted per month. Now every form of social media has a free chat feature. I have five different group-chats in five different apps with the same two people. We text so much as a whole that companies were like "fuck it, just give us whatever my dad pays on his cell phone bill". Camera-phone used to be a considered a bell and whistle. Now the idea of a phone without a camera is like the idea of a car without wheels.
Imagine how much differently 9/11 would've been and looked if it took place in like, 2018? It wasn't even 20 years ago and there's only three known videos of the first plane. THREE. You take three pics before sending a selfie with a filter to your adult crush. If 9/11 happened two years ago there would've been hundreds of TikTokers catching the first plane hit while they dance in unison on public, crowded sidewalks.
I can't even wrap my head around the possibility of this because of how quick our news cycle is, but imagine if the tragic death of Kobe, Gianna and seven others was actually broken during the Pro Bowl and not hours before.
That's basically the closest comparison I can make to what took place on the night of December 8th, 1980 when John Lennon was murdered outside of the Dakota by a lunatic fan named Mark David Chapman. The world didn't learn about the news from a push notification or break news bulletin, it came before a potential game winning field goal attempt on Monday Night Football and word of mouth until the news aired.
We've had four Monday Night Football double headers this season, but MNF pales in comparison to the must watch television event it was in its early hay day. Monday Night Football is greatly responsible for the marriage of professional sports and popular American culture. Millions are people shared the experience of learning this horrible news from Howard Cosell.
Nearly six years to the day, Lennon was interviewed by Howard Cosell at halftime of a Los Angeles vs Washington game. Now he was telling the world the unspeakable tragedy of his passing. It was not an easy decision. Howard had a friendly relationship with Lennon and wasn't sure if this was the time to tell the world; knowing the magnitude of the news. If you've never seen the Outside the Lines segment on how the entire story went down, you gotta see it. The pure happenstance led to ABC getting the scoop seems too good to be true. While the quality makes it seem like this video was filmed in 1980 too, it's a must watch.
This video is actual footage from the broadcast.
I'm a huge Cosell guy, so I've probably watched that clip a dozen times; every single time that vigil and people signing "Give Peace a Chance" chokes me up. It's still something we should highly consider.
R.I.P. John Lennon and Howard Cosell.