Irv Cross, Pro Bowl CB and pioneer sportscaster, passes away at 81

Irv Cross, the first Black sports analyst on national television and a two-time Pro Bowler, passed away Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles announced. He was 81.

Cross played nine years in the NFL after Philly selected him with the 98th pick of the 1961 draft. The Northwestern graduate contributed in a multitude of ways for the Eagles, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1964 and 1965.

After five strong seasons, the 6-foot-2 cornerback was traded to the Rams. In Los Angeles, Cross continued to produce and would make his lone playoff appearance. He returned to Philadelphia for the 1969 campaign as a player/coach before retiring from the playing field and remaining on staff for another year.

For his career, he registered 22 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries, eight forced fumbles and a pair of defensive touchdowns. Cross also averaged 27.9 yards on kickoff returns and returned punts as well.

In 1971, Cross joined CBS Sports, his home for the next 23 years. His decorated tenure included being an anchor on the Emmy-Award-winning The NFL Today from its 1975 inception through 1989. He then served as an athletic director at Idaho State and Macalester College in Minnesota.

The Indiana native was also inducted into the state's football hall of fame and was the 2009 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Per the Eagles, Cross died while near his Minnesota home and is survived by his wife, Liz, and four children, among others.

"Our thoughts are with Irv Cross' family," the Vikings posted on Twitter. "He was a trailblazer in the sports broadcasting industry and we appreciate all he did on a national level and here locally in the Twin Cities."