Source: USA TODAY
For many sports fans in the 1960s through the 1990s, Pat Summerall was the voice of the NFL, starting with CBS’ Sunday telecasts and later with Fox, famously paired for much of that time with John Madden.
Summerall, 82, passed away Tuesday in Dallas, said his daughter, Susie Wiles.
“He was an extraordinary man and a wonderful father,” Wiles told the Associated Press. “I know he will be greatly missed.”
The Dallas Morning News reported Summerall died in his room at Dallas’ Zale Lipshy Hospital, where he was recovering from surgery for a broken hip.
Summerall worked a record 16 Super Bowls, drawing on his football relationships made during his nine-plus years as a kicker in the NFL, primarily for the then-Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants from 1952 to 1961.
He had been ill off and on in his later years. A recovering alcoholic, Summerall had a liver transplant in 2004, needing it even after 12 years of sobriety.
His was a trusted, low-key, to the point voice, which made the contrast to the effervescent Madden — “Boom!” — a pairing that was informative and entertaining.
In a statement Tuesday, Madden said, “Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that he was my friend for all of these years. We never had one argument, and that was because of Pat. He was a great broadcaster and a great man. He always had a joke. Pat never complained, and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special. Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be.”
When CBS lost its NFL package after the 1993 season, Summerall and Madden joined Fox Sports as that network’s lead NFL announcer team.
A man with many interests, Summerall also was called on by CBS to be the lead announcer for its coverage of PGA Tour events for many years as well as such major tennis events as the U.S. Open. He called 13 Super Bowls, 26 Masters and 21 U.S. Opens for the network.
CBS announcers remembered him Tuesday:
*Jim Nantz: “Pat Summerall was a hero to me. I treasured the gift of friendship that I had with him. I was his understudy for 10 years. He could not have been more generous or kind to a young broadcaster. He was a giant and one of the iconic figures in the history of the CBS television network.”
*Verne Lundquist: “Pat was a friend of nearly 40 years. He was a master of restraint in his commentary, an example for all of us. He was also one of the great storytellers who ever spoke into a microphone.”
Summerall’s last Super Bowl worked was for Fox on Feb. 3, 2002, which also was his last game with Madden, ending a 21-year run together.
“You are what the NFL is all about, what pro football is all about, and more important, what a man is all about and what a gentleman is all about,” Madden said then in a tribute to his partner to end that Super Bowl telecast.
Before Madden, Summerall teamed with another former NFL player, Tom Brookshier, in the 1970s, and they called three Super Bowls for CBS. Of Brookshier, who died in January 2010, Summerall once told The New York Times: “With Brookie, it was more of a conversation, like two guys in a saloon.”
Summerall’s first taste of fame, however, did come in his playing career. In the 1958 regular-season finale for the Giants, Summerall nailed a game-winning 49-yard field goal through the driving snow to beat the Cleveland Browns and keep New York’s season alive.
Two weeks later, in the game known as the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” Summerall was the Giants’ kicker in the NFL championship won in overtime by the Baltimore Colts.
Summerall became so gifted at his second career, spanning more than 40 years, that he was named National Sportscaster of the Year in 1977 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1994.
Pro football recognized him, too, as the 1994 recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”
And in 1999 he was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame.
Lance Barrow, coordinating producer for CBS Sports, worked many events with Summerall. In a statement, he said:
“In 1976 I was a junior in college and Chuck Will put me in the 18th tower as a spotter for Pat Summerall. He told me, ‘You’re not going to meet a finer man in this business than Pat Summerall.’ And to this day, I never have. He was kind to everyone. When you were around him you never knew that he was the No. 1 broadcaster. He taught me so much, not only about this business, but how to treat people. I’m sad on this day, but also smiling because I know he will be with his good buddy Tom Brookshier.”
George Allen “Pat” Summerall was born May 10, 1930, in Lake City, Fla., a rural area midway between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. He was an all-around athlete and attended the University of Arkansas on a basketball scholarship. Once there he became an all-Southwest Conference selection in basketball and football. He graduated with a degree in education and later earned a master’s degree in Russian history.