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

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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)

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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)

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"I had no intention of quitting, I was having too good a time," Summerall said in a 2000 Associated Press story. "The prescribed stay at Betty Ford is 28 days. They kept me 33 because I was so angry at the people who did the intervention, the first five days didn't do me any good."

Summerall received the liver of a 13-year-old junior high football player from Arkansas who died unexpectedly from an aneurysm. Summerall had an emotional meeting with the teenager's family the following year.

"He always had a joke," Madden said Tuesday. "Pat never complained and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special."

Summerall often shared his testimony with Christian groups and told his story when speaking before other organizations. In his 2006 book, "Summerall: On and Off The Air," he frankly discussed his personal struggles and professional successes.

Long before broadcasting Super Bowl games, 16 for television and 10 more for radio — in fact, before there was even a Super Bowl — Summerall played a role in what is known in football circles as "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the 1958 NFL championship. The Giants lost to the Baltimore Colts 23-17 in the NFL's first-ever overtime game.

"Pat Summerall was one of the best friends and greatest contributors that the NFL has known," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "His majestic voice was treasured by millions of NFL fans for more than four decades. It is a sad day in the NFL."

Born George Allen Summerall on May 10, 1930, in Lake City, Fla., he was an all-state prep football and basketball player there, and lettered in baseball and tennis. He played college football at Arkansas before going to the NFL.

After breaking his arm in the preseason as a rookie for Detroit, Summerall played five years for the Chicago Cardinals before four seasons with the Giants. While he was also a defensive back, Summerall was primarily a kicker, making 100 field goals and 256 of 265 extra points in his career.

The most famous was a 49-yarder through the wind and snow at Yankee Stadium that gave the Giants a 13-10 victory against the Cleveland Browns. The win gave the Giants the home field for a rematch with Cleveland in the playoffs, and a win in that game put New York in the famous title game against Baltimore.

"Pat will always be a great Giant," team president John Mara said Tuesday. "He was one of my father's favorites, and his game-winning kick in the snow against the Browns in 1958 is one of the most memorable plays in our franchise's history."

In a story distributed by the Giants, Gifford said Summerall was an underrated player because he coach Jim Lee Howell and offensive assistant Vince Lombardi wanted to preserve him for kicking.

"Lombardi didn't want him to get hurt," Gifford said. "But we didn't need him as a football player, we needed him as a kicker. I was going both ways and doing the kicking, too. We picked him up from the Cardinals and that was the end of my kicking career."

When asked about his fondest NFL memories during a May 2009 interview with the AP, Summerall said there were things that stood out as a player and broadcaster.

"You always remember the days as a player. I was in four championship games before there was a Super Bowl, so I remember those very well," he said. "Broadcasting, I remember the last (Super Bowl) I did. Of course, I remember that. I remember the first one most vividly than any of the rest."

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Additional Photos

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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)

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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)

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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)



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