David Salerno was so enthused after working with Keith Jackson, he probably felt like giving the legendary broadcaster a celebratory “Gatorade Shower.”
“Dealing with him was wonderful,” said Feature Producer Dave Salerno, whose “Bucket List” piece will run on tonight’s E:60 (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN). “He was humble, kind, and so easy to deal with.”
“Bucket List” is E:60’s look at a quarter century of players dousing coaches with Gatorade near the end of big wins. The New York Giants reportedly pioneered the tradition when Harry Carson nailed Bill Parcells on October 28, 1986 after beating the Washington Redskins. Unless you’re Dan Hampton who claims his Bears dunked coach Mike Ditka two years earlier when they clinched the NFC Central.
Whichever version is true, Jackson may have seen as many “Showers” as anyone. Besides being Monday Night Football’s original play-by-play commentator, he’s called Rose Bowls, Sugar Bowls, Cotton Bowls and countless games featuring the No. 1-ranked teams in a broadcasting career which began in 1952 and earned him many honors, including enshrinement into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
“Keith Jackson was the perfect fit for this story,” said E:60 senior producer Ben Houser, who originally suggested using Jackson for the piece. “His larger than life voice brought an energy that is unmatched.”
The assignment was handed off to Salerno, who recalls, “We did e-mails – I said, ‘We can work around your schedule.’ I sent him a script he was comfortable with, and he replied, ‘Yeah, I can totally do this.’”
While ESPN’s Chris Connolly did much of the script writing, “Keith came up with some things on his own – some words, a few phrases – making it very ‘Keith,’” Salerno says.
“It took less than an hour, it was remarkable how he was able to hit his marks with all the lines” Salerno said of Friday’s recording session at Radio Ranch in Sherman Oaks, Calif. When told Keith turns 83 a week after the “Bucket List” airs, Salerno marveled, “Wow! To be that good at that age is amazing. I’m so grateful I got to work with him.”