Rose Bowl to host celebration of life for Keith Jackson

LOS ANGELES -- At the Rose Bowl, one of the hallowed places where Keith Jackson felt most at home, friends and family of the late broadcaster will hold a celebration of life in his honor on Sunday.

The event is free and open to the public, with doors opening at 3 p.m. local time.

Considered the voice of college football, Jackson provided a unique soundtrack for the sport for more than five decades before he retired in 2006. Jackson died in January at age 89.

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts was Jackson’s broadcast partner on television later in Jackson's career, and he will be one of the speakers at the event on Sunday.

Other speakers include Bob Griese, Todd Harris, Lynn Swann, Hall of Fame basketball player Ann Meyers Drysdale, and Jason Gesser, former quarterback at Washington State University, Jackson’s alma mater.

Tim Brant, who worked with Jackson as a college football analyst at ABC, will serve as master of ceremonies.

“To be in the same business, and then in the same room and the same booth with him, it just was very special,” Fouts said. “The words to really describe our relationship are many, and it starts with friendship.

“He showed me a lot. He helped me a lot. And we enjoyed each other’s company a lot.”

Fouts talked about the unique way in which Jackson painted a picture for college football viewers on game days, and that kept the former Chargers quarterback on his toes.

“I think the big thing was to pay attention to what he was saying and to appreciate how he was saying it,” Fouts said. “Giving him space to do his thing, and he respected my space -- that’s what made for a good team.

"He said things differently and colorfully, and sometimes it would take me out of what I was going to say, because what I was going to say would just sound so stupid,” Fouts said with a laugh.

What got through to viewers who listened to Jackson was a sincerity in his approach, Fouts said.

“He was genuine, unique and kind,” Fouts said. “His kindness came across in his broadcast. He was fair to both sides. He was, just as they say in the business, a good listen, because it was smooth, accurate and informative.”

Folks who attend the memorial service will get to hear stories and anecdotes about Jackson from his friends and former colleagues, and video that perhaps they haven't heard, along with Jackson’s signature voice.

“It’s really going to be special,” Fouts said. “And to have it at the Rose Bowl is just apropos.”