Irv Cross, one of the signature voices of The NFL Today and CBS Sports for nearly 25 years, passed away on Sunday. He was 81 years old.

Following a nine-year career as an NFL defensive back, six of those seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cross joined CBS Sports in 1971. With that, he became the first Black man to work as a full-time analyst on national television.

Cross was part of CBS’s iconic The NFL Today pregame show with Brent Musburger, Phyllis George, and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder beginning in 1975. He co-hosted the show with Musberger until 1989.

In 2009, Cross was recognized for his work with the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, honored for “longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”

“All of us at CBS Sports are saddened by the news of Irv Cross’ passing,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus in a statement.

“Irv was a pioneer who made significant contributions to the storied history and tradition of CBS Sports and, along with Phyllis George and Brent Musburger, set the standard for NFL pregame shows with The NFL Today. He was a true gentleman and a trailblazer in the sports television industry and will be remembered for his accomplishments and the paths he paved for those who followed.”

Related: Former The NFL Today figure and trailblazing female broadcaster Phyllis George passes away at 70 from blood disorder

Though Cross was probably best known for his work on The NFL Today, he covered a variety of sports for CBS, calling NBA games, along with track and field and gymnastics during his 23 years at the network. He also anchored sports updates during broadcasts of college basketball, boxing, and other events.

Cross had plenty of broadcasting skills and versatility for CBS to utilize. He worked in sports media while playing for the Eagles, broadcasting drive-time sports reports on local radio and TV. (Cross was the first Black man to anchor TV sportscasts in Philadelphia.)

After leaving CBS in 1994, Cross worked as an athletic director at Idaho State, then at Macalester College in Minnesota. He remained in Minnesota, becoming the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, and later did football commentary for Minneapolis’s Fox affiliate, KMSP-TV.

Related: Former NFL Today analyst Irv Cross has been diagnosed with mild cognitive dementia

As could be expected, many of Cross’s colleagues in broadcasting and print media paid tribute on social media following news of his death. He was a major influence on many fans who grew up watching CBS’s NFL broadcasts and warmly remembered.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.