In 1970, Forte was named the first director of Monday Night Football. His ability to present the game as entertainment spectacle as well as sporting event, under the mandate of executive producer Roone Arledge, made the show a huge success in both sports and pop culture.
Departure from ABC Sports
However, Forte hid a major problem behind the scenes: he had a gambling addiction. ABC feared that this was affecting his job. That, as well as larger changes that included the departure of Howard Cosell and the retirement of Arledge, led to his departure from ABC in the mid-1980s. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on 3 counts of mail fraud and tax evasion. He cooperated with the government and was spared prison time receiving a 5 yr. probation sentence.
The next year, he became a talk show host at San Diego'sXETRA, also known as "XTRA Sports 690." He co-hosted the Loose Cannons show with Steve Hartman. On the show, he openly discussed his addiction and offered to help others in a similar situation.
Forte was still on the air days before his death on May 18, 1996. In fact, a caller even complimented him and mentioned that somebody should recognize his career accomplishments. He was known to enjoy unhealthy foods, so it probably should come as no surprise that he died of a heart attack at the age of 60. In the aftermath, there was a controversy about his medical treatment which led to his survivors filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Steven Gross. The family received a $1.7 million settlement.