April 16, 2013

Pat Summerall, voice of NFL, dies at 82

As John Madden's longtime partner, Summerall was one of the most famous broadcasters in NFL history, calling 16 Super Bowls.

The Associated Press

DALLAS — Pat Summerall was the calm alongside John Madden's storm.

click image to enlarge

In this Feb. 3, 2002, file photo, Fox broadcasters Pat Summerall, left, and John Madden stand in the booth at Louisiana Superdome before the NFL Super Bowl XXXVI football game in New Orleans. Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell said Tuesday, April 16, 2013, that Summerall, the NFL player-turned-broadcaster whose deep, resonant voice called games for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File)

click image to enlarge

In this Sept. 17, 1960, file photo, New York Giants placekicker Pat Summerall poses for a portrait in New York. Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell said Tuesday, April 16, 2013, that Summerall, the NFL player-turned-broadcaster whose deep, resonant voice called games for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82. (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)

Additional Photos Below

Over four decades, Summerall described some of the biggest games in America in his deep, resonant voice. Simple, spare, he delivered the details on 16 Super Bowls, the Masters and the U.S. Open tennis tournament with a simple, understated style that was the perfect complement for the "booms!" and "bangs!" of Madden, his football partner for the last half of the NFL player-turned-broadcaster's career.

Summerall died Tuesday at age 82 of cardiac arrest, said University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center spokesman Jeff Carlton, speaking on behalf of Summerall's wife, Cheri.

"Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that he was my friend for all of these years," Madden said in a statement. "Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be."

His final play-by-play words beside Madden were succinct, of course, as he called the game-ending field goal of the Super Bowl for Fox on Feb. 3, 2002, when New England beat St. Louis 20-17.

"It's right down the pipe. Adam Vinatieri. No time on the clock. And the Patriots have won Super Bowl XXXVI. Unbelievable," Summerall said.

Sparse, exciting, perfect. A flawless summation without distracting from the reaction viewers could see on the screen.

At the end of their final broadcast together, Madden described Summerall as "a treasure" and the "spirit of the National Football League" in a tribute to the partner that complemented the boisterous former Oakland Raiders coach so well.

As former teammate and broadcaster Frank Gifford put it in an accompanying video tribute: "America is very comfortable with Pat Summerall."

Summerall played 10 NFL seasons from 1952 to 1961 with the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants, but it was in his second career that he became a voice familiar to generations of sports fans, not only those of the NFL.

"Pat was a friend of nearly 40 years," CBS Sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist said. "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 started doing NFL games for CBS in 1964, and became a play-by-play guy 10 years later. He was also part of coverage of the PGA Tour, including the Masters from 1968-94, and U.S. Open tennis.

When CBS lost its NFL deal after the 1993 season, Summerall switched to Fox to keep calling NFL games with Madden. Summerall had hoped to keep working with CBS for other events like the Masters, but network executives saw it otherwise. At the time, CBS Sports anchor Jim Nantz said he was "very saddened" that Summerall didn't get to leave CBS under his own terms.

"Pat Summerall was a hero to me," Nantz said Tuesday. "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."

A recovering alcoholic, Summerall had a liver transplant in April 2004. The lifesaving surgery was necessary even after 12 years of sobriety.

After an intervention involving, among others, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, former CBS Sports President Peter Lund and former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beaman, Summerall checked into the Betty Ford Clinic in April 1992.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

In this Nov. 8, 1959, file photo, New York Giants place kicker Pat Summerall shows off kicking shoe for photographers in the locker room after making three field goals to help the team to a 9-3 win over the Chicago Cardinals at Yankee Stadium in New York. Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell said Tuesday, April 16, 2013, that Summerall, the NFL player-turned-broadcaster whose deep, resonant voice called games for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82. (AP Photo/John Lindsay, File)

click image to enlarge

In this April 19, 1994, file photo, Pat Summerall, completing his 34th and final season with CBS, receives an award for lifetime achievement at the 1994 Sports Emmy Awards in New York. Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell said Tuesday, April 16, 2013, that Summerall, the NFL player-turned-broadcaster whose deep, resonant voice called games for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82. (AP Photo/Rob Clark, File)

click image to enlarge

In this Jan. 23, 1994, file photo, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, talks with CBS commentator Pat Summerall before the NFL football NFC championship game between the Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers in Irving, Texas. Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell said Tuesday, April 16, 2013, that Summerall, the NFL player-turned-broadcaster whose deep, resonant voice called games for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin, File)



Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


 

Blogs

More PPH Blogs

Winter sports 2013-2014

High School Football 2013

Fall sports photos