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Before the internet and social media, the news didn’t travel as fast as it does today. However, many Americans found out about the tragic death of John Lennon on December 8, 1980 the same way: From Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football.

“Remember: This is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses,” began Cosell. “An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City. John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the west side of New York City, the most famous perhaps of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back. Rushed to Roosevelt Hospital. Dead on arrival.”

RELATED: WMGK’s Cyndy Drue on Announcing John Lennon’s Death On The Air

Below is an ESPN “Outside The Lines” story that ran on the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death that detailed the behind-the-scenes goings-on of Cosell’s now-infamous announcement and how the legendary sportscaster almost didn’t deliver the earth-shattering news.

The piece below features off-the-air audio of Cosell and announcer Frank Gifford discussing whether or not to break the news during the game. While Cosell was on the fence about breaking the news, Gifford tells him, “You’ve got to. If we know it, we’ve got to do it…Don’t hang on it. It’s a tragic moment and this is going to shake-up the whole world.”

ESPN OTL: John Lennon Murder, 30th Anniversary

An ESPN "Outside The Lines" report on Beatles band member John Lennon, murdered on December 8th, 1980 in New York City. His shocking death was initially anno...


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Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.