"First of all," said Selensky, "you do not want football music. You want something different."
Cosell glanced at an ad salesman in the room. The salesman's eyes carried an alarm that cried, "It'll never sell!"
"What do you have in mind?" Cosell patiently asked Selensky.
"I want storm clouds. I want tension. I want an all-is-not-well feeling." Silence blanketed the room. Selensky turned to Izenberg, searching for support. "What do you think?" he asked.
"I like it," Izenberg said.
"You," Selensky said, "have a soul. You may call me Vlady."
Cosell, measuring the convictions of his talent against those of his ad salesman, instructed Selensky to put together the storm clouds and bring them in. When Selensky did so, Cosell listened to no more than five bars. "Perfect!" he cried and walked away, knowing that the music (which was to endow the football war with all the intensity of a midwinter battle at the gates of Moscow) was in the hands of a professional.
If only the people on the industry's horizontal ladder of mediocrity would leave him alone, Cosell would remain at peace. As it is, he charged angrily from his office one recent morning, shouting over his shoulder at a nicely barbered blond man who trailed in his wake. (The man wanted Cosell to find no less than 24 sports events every weekend and assign network radio announcers to interview the stars of each event by phone.) Cosell flung himself into an elevator. "Do you think," he bellowed as the doors slammed closed in the blond man's face, "that a mass audience is going to be interested in barrel jumping?"
The next day Cosell sat at his cocktail-hour post in the Warwick bar, his shoulders slumping, his face a mask of agony. "I am tired," he said, "morally, mentally, emotionally, physically, I am tired." The forces of ignorance had struck again this very day. A radio station in an AFL city—Cosell wouldn't say which one—had disliked his latest critique of AFL football and had notified ABC it was dropping all Cosell shows. (A couple of weeks later they were reinstated.)
"I have lived a lifetime with this kind of thing," Cosell said. "The impact of Howard Cosell on radio is enormous. People love him or hate him. Local yokels pressure the stations. The guy who runs the station in this AFL city said, "You have destroyed the image of our city.' Our sales head was in a panic." Cosell wondered what the world was coming to. "I'm in the toy department, sports!" he cried. "Are people so juvenile that you can't tell the truth in sports? This isn't Bill Manchester on Jackie Kennedy! This is Howard Cosell on sports! I don't take myself that seriously. Let's not make it Paul Revere on the horse. I'm no hero.