Irv Cross Fellowship

The Irv Cross Fellowship

The Concussion Legacy Foundation’s Irv Cross Fellowship honors the pioneering legacy of the late Irv Cross, a former NFL star who became the first Black sportscaster on national television. Cross passed away on February 28, 2021 at age 81 and was later diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  

The Fellowship is designed to help young Black sports media members get their start in the industry. The selected Irv Cross Fellow will be awarded $2,500 to advance their career in sports media. 


Irv Cross Fellowship Concussion Legacy Foundation

Who is eligible for the Irv Cross Fellowship?

Candidates for the Irv Cross Fellowship must:

•    Be born on or after 2/28/1994
•    Be a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
•    Have completed CLF’s Concussion Reporting Certification 
•    Complete the application form embedded below before Friday, June 14, 2024


Irv Cross Fellowship

In the space below, provide a 200–300-word answer to the following prompt



Irv Cross (07/27/39 – 02/28/21)

Irv Cross was a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Philadelphia Eagles and one of the best defensive backs of the 1960s. After his playing career, he became a broadcasting pioneer as the first Black sportscaster on national television for CBS’ NFL Today and was a staple of NFL broadcasts for 23 seasons. In his 70s, Cross was diagnosed with mild cognitive dementia. He bravely went public with his diagnosis and symptoms to help others, and he pledged to donate his brain to the UNITE Brain Bank to advance research. After his death, Cross’ brain was studied at the UNITE Brain Bank, where researchers diagnosed him with stage 4 (of 4) CTE.

Cross’ concussion and CTE advocacy extended beyond his brain donation. Cross advocated for the first ever Pop Warner flag football league when he was chairman of the Pop Warner 50th Anniversary Celebration in 1979. Members of the CLF team had the unique honor of visiting Cross’ home in 2018 to interview him on his endorsement of Flag Football Under 14, our campaign to educate parents on the risks of youth tackle football. In that conversation, Cross also shared how he believed sports broadcasters had a responsibility to report on concussions in an accurate, informative manner.

We are forever grateful to have had Cross’ support for our programs and for his family’s gracious decision to donate his brain for research. Through this Fellowship, we hope to honor Irv’s lifelong dedication to giving back to others and his commitment to increasing awareness of concussions and CTE.

Cross’ CTE diagnosis was covered in The Associated Press here. 

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