His voice was as epic or as intense as one of those narrators for NFL films. Summerall is one of my favorite commentators in all of the NFL. He will truly be missed and he was a great translator for Madden’s mumbling. The NFL will forever be looking for a part of its voice, as Pat Summerall passed away at the age of 82 on Tuesday. The lead Sunday play-by-play man for CBS and later FOX, Summerall built a legacy that contained a record of16 Super Bowls behind the mic and a part of perhaps sports’ greatest broadcasting duo. Along with longtime partner John Madden and NFL Films’ John Facenda, Summerall will be remembered as one of the three voices most associated with professional football.
Summerall stood alone from the other two. Madden was a coach before a broadcaster and Facenda made his mark as the first voice of the NFL. Summerall started on the field. Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1952, he played 10 seasons as a kicker, primarily for the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants, before retiring in 1961. His 49-yard field goal late in a game played in a snowstorm gave the New York Giants a 13-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns in the 1958 regular-season finale.
Summerall helped tell the story of the NFL, not only with his play on the field but with his voice. Originally paired with former NFL player Tom Brookshier, in the 1970s, the two men 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 never changed his approach to broadcasting even when he was paired with his second partner, Madden. Together, Madden and Summerall called games for 21 straight years, first on CBS and then on FOX. The duo’s coverage of Super Bowl XVI in 1982 remains the highest-rated sports program in American history, with an audience of more than 49 percent of the nation watching. In the last game Summerall called, Super Bowl XXXVI between the Patriots and Rams, Madden concluded the broadcast by telling his longtime partner: “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.”
“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.” Madden said in a statement on Tuesday.