Pat Summerall – Voice of the NFL


It was with a heavy heart we learned of the passing of Pat Summerall Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

For us, Pat Summerall was THE voice of the NFL. His work in the broadcast booth with John Madden made for some of the best Sunday sports memories of our lives. We have a collection of posts and commentary from around the nation on the former Razorback, NFL player, member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, award-winning broadcaster and all-around good guy.

There were several tributes shared last night during our weekly #slachat on Twitter that you will find in the archive here.

We would love to hear your favorite memories of Pat Summerall, too. Please leave them in the comments section below.

From the University of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE – Former Razorback football player and longtime sports broadcaster Pat Summerall passed away on Tuesday at the age of 82.

“We are all deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Pat Summerall,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. “As one of the most recognizable graduates of the University of Arkansas, Pat was an ambassador for the Razorback program, our university and the entire state throughout his distinguished career.

“After an extraordinary collegiate and professional football career, he went on to become one of the country’s legendary sports broadcasters for more than four decades lending his signature voice to some of the most memorable moments in sports history. He was a proud Razorback and he will be greatly missed by his Razorback Family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Cheri and the entire Summerall Family.”

Summerall began his illustrious career at the University of Arkansas as a defensive end, tight end and placekicker. A captain in 1951, Summerall played for the Razorbacks from 1949-51 before starting his professional career in the NFL. His kick against No. 4 Texas is one of the most memorable plays in Razorback football history. The kick gave Arkansas a 16-14 win over the No. 4 Longhorns and gave the Hogs their first win over Texas in Fayetteville.

After he graduated from the University of Arkansas, Summerall was selected in the fourth round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He played for three different teams (Detroit, Chicago Cardinals, New York Giants) during his 10 year tenure in the NFL. In 1959, he went 30-for-30 on extra points and made 20 of 29 field goals for a total of 90 points.

Summerall is most notably known for his career after football, as a play-by-play announcer for CBS and Fox. He spent 40 years in the broadcast booth and formed one of the most memorable tandems in television history with John Madden. He was an announcer for 26 Super Bowls, the Masters and the US Open of Tennis.

In 2012, he became the 19th Razorback to be honored in the Southeastern Conference Legends Program. Summerall is a member of the Arkansas All-Century Team (selected in 1994) as a kicker and was named to the 1940s All-Decade team as an end. He is also a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

From the Dallas Morning News

His minimalist staccato style coupled with a deep, authoritative voice was his trademark as the pre-eminent NFL voice for a generation of television viewers.

Summerall worked 16 Super Bowls in a network career that began at CBS in 1962 and ended at Fox in 2002.

In the 21 seasons in which play-by-play voice Summerall worked alongside John Madden, they grew into America’s most popular sports broadcast team. Their work for CBS at Super Bowl XVI, following the 1981 season, remains the highest-rated NFL game of all-time, with more than 49 percent of the nation tuned in.

“I was so lucky I got to work with Pat,” Madden said in an interview around the time of Summerall’s transplant. “He was so easy to work with. He knew how to use words. For a guy like myself who rambles on and on and doesn’t always make sense, he was sent from heaven.”

In a statement Tuesday, Madden added that his former partner “was something very special. Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be.”

Madden was the first broadcaster Fox hired when it outbid CBS for NFL rights beginning in 1994. He insisted that Summerall be the second. Madden found no opposition.

“Pat Summerall set the standard for play-by-play announcers regardless of sport,” said Ed Goren, retired president of Fox Sports, who also worked with Summerall at CBS. “If he was an athlete, you’d call him a team player. Pat always deferred to others in the booth. He worried about the broadcast, never about his own role. He had a Hall of Fame career.”

But Summerall, a former NFL player, was much more than simply a football broadcaster.

He was a man for all sports seasons.

He called NBA games for CBS and was the network’s lead voice on golf and tennis broadcasts. He worked 27 Masters and 20 tennis U.S. Opens.

Summerall watched CBS’ coverage of the Masters in his hospital room over the weekend and made a vow.

“I’m going to walk again,” he promised his visitors.

Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, said in a statement:

“Pat was the NFL’s narrator for generations, with a voice that was powerful, eloquent and distinctive.

“His presence at an NFL game elevated that event to a higher level. He was royalty in the broadcast booth. He was respected and admired by players, coaches, commissioners and Presidents of our country—and always a gentleman—someone who had time for the fans in the parking lot after the game.

“Humility and kindness were his closest companions. He was a trusted friend and confidant, and for all of his immense talents as a professional, he was an even better person.

“For a man who could dramatically capture a moment with very few words, there simply aren’t enough words to adequately describe what he meant to sports and broadcasting in this country.

“There is no question that Pat broadcast more Dallas games on CBS and FOX than any other man, and this is a great loss for thousands of Cowboys fans who spent their Sunday afternoons in the living room with Pat.

“Our hearts go out to Cheri and his family. Pat was an icon and an American original.”

From the New York Giants, where Summerall played for four season:

In his four seasons with the team he kicked 59 field goals and scored 313 points.

“Pat will always be a great Giant,” said Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara. “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. And Pat was a true gentleman and the voice of the NFL for generations of fans.”

“Pat was a wonderful ambassador not only for the NFL, but for sports in general,” said Steve Tisch, the Giants’ Chairman and Executive Vice President. “He was a fixture in our living rooms. We were fortunate to have him as a player and also as the voice for some of our most memorable games. Even more importantly, he was a warm, gentle man.”

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