5 John Madden
John Madden made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach, not a broadcaster. This, despite spending many more years commenting on the game and being best known in the 21st century for the top-selling video game that bears his name. But what makes Madden great is his sheer enthusiasm for football. He was an excitable coach. He remains an excitable pitchman. But he is remembered for his excitable broadcasting—yelling “Boom!” even as longtime partner Pat Summerall called a great hit.
4 Howard Cosell
If a mark of a great broadcaster is his ability to create a memorable moment, then Howard Cosell fits the bill. From his verbal sparring with boxing legend Muhammad Ali to his years “telling it like it is” on “Monday Night Football,” Cosell—who died in 1995—was no stranger to controversy and headlines. He was loud and he was opinionated, and he is still impersonated to this day because of it.
3 Jim McKay
When Sports Illustrated named its best broadcasters, Jim McKay topped the list, beating out even Vin Scully for the blue ribbon. McKay, who died in 2008, called 40 years of the famed “Wide World of Sports” show with its iconic “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” tagline and announced a dozen Olympic Games. Sadly, his best-known Olympic moment may be one in which he played the role of newscaster: the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
2 Mel Allen
Mel Allen, who died in 1996, is best known as the voice of the New York Yankees during their golden era from the 1940s into the 1960s. During that time, the Yankees dominated baseball, and Allen was the man who announced their triumphs. When a franchise has had many famous names in its broadcast booth, including Red Barber, Phil Rizzuto and others, it speaks volumes that Allen is still called “The Voice of the Yankees.”
1 Vin Scully
Vin Scully remained the play-by-play voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013, at age 84 and with 64 years of experience in the booth. His career has lasted so long that he started out calling Dodgers games when they were still in Brooklyn. But Scully’s fame wasn’t earned through longevity alone. He was ranked first in the American Sportscasters Association’s list of all-time greats and second in Sports Illustrated’s list.