Pat Summerall dies at 82

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Pat Summerall, an NFL player in the 1950s and 1960s who would go on to become one of the sport’s most respected broadcasters for decades, has died at the age of 82, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Summerall grew up in Florida and played his college football at Arkansas, where he was a standout as an offensive and defensive end, as well as a kicker. In 1952, the Lions took him with the 45th overall pick in the NFL draft.

An injury limited Summerall to just two games in his rookie season, and in 1953 the Lions traded him to the Chicago Cardinals, where he played for five years. Summerall’s final four seasons came with the Giants, where his greatest moment as a player came when he kicked the winning field goal to beat the Browns in a crucial December game despite suffering a leg injury in pre-game warmups.

Summerall retired after the 1961 season and was immediately hired by CBS Sports, where he gained great fame as a play-by-play man, teamed first with Tom Brookshier and then with John Madden. Summerall and Madden stayed together after FOX out-bid CBS for NFC rights in 1994 and were a pairing until 2002. In all, Summerall and Madden worked together for 22 NFL seasons, and they’re regarded by many as the best broadcasting duo in American sports history.

Known for his plainspoken, straightforward style, Summerall wanted the attention on the players, and not on himself. He’d often call a game-changing play in a manner so simple that he’d say little more than, “Montana. Rice. Touchdown.”

Those of us who grew up in the 1980s can remember a time when we’d turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and know, if we heard Pat Summerall’s voice, that we were getting the best game of the week. And hearing the best broadcaster in the business.

166 responses to “Pat Summerall dies at 82

  1. Someone in SI in the early 80’s likened him to “the cool side of the pillow.” Awesome compliment.

  2. “Those of us who grew up in the 1980s can remember a time when we’d turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and know, if we heard Pat Summerall’s voice, that we were getting the best game of the week. And hearing the best broadcaster in the business”

    Word.

  3. “Those of us who grew up in the 1980s can remember a time when we’d turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and know, if we heard Pat Summerall’s voice, that we were getting the best game of the week. And hearing the best broadcaster in the business.”

    Isn’t that the truth?

    RIP, Pat.

  4. Most Summerall/Madden broadcasts, I would wish there was a mute button I could press on Madden so I could just listen to Summerall. He was the last broadcaster that actually let the game BREATHE. Now. It’s just yak, yak, yak, yak, yak and commentators like Gruden offering absolutely nothing except how great this and that player is.

  5. Greatest memory I had growing up was his call with Matt Bahr’s FG going through the uprights, and his “there will be nooooooooooooooooooooooo three-peat” call as the score flashed up. I was on cloud nine for a WEEK. RIP Pat.

  6. as a middle/hs/college student in the 80’s i would love when cbs had a vikings game on in the nj/philly area with him and madden. those were the days. i’d say it’s a little different nowadays. pat, you will be missed!!!!

  7. cometkazie says: Apr 16, 2013 5:27 PM

    “Those of us who grew up in the 1980s can remember a time when we’d turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and know, if we heard Pat Summerall’s voice, that we were getting the best game of the week. And hearing the best broadcaster in the business.”

    Isn’t that the truth?

    RIP, Pat..
    ————

    Yes, it is the truth.

  8. Growing up, it seemed like Pat & John called every 9er game. They were the best duo I’ve ever heard and probably won’t be topped anytime soon. In honor of Pat, I’m going to throw in the tape (that’s right – VHS!) of the 1994 NFC Championship game sometime soon. He called a great game, as he always did.

    He did a great job of smoothing John out and not over-talking. Some of the guys today flap their gums incessantly. Pat was one of the best and he will be missed. The funny thing is I was thinking about him a few days as I figured he must be close now. Sad that he was this close. Hopefully it was quick.

    RIP Pat and you won’t be forgotten.

  9. RIP many great memories of his play by play, set a humble example, and always struck me as a guy with a very subtle sense of humor, some of the stuff he and Brookshier did in pregames were classic.

  10. Miss him and Madden doing games. He also did the commentary for Joe Montana football back in the early 90’s. I loved his reaction to fake field goals. “The 49ers line up for the FG, it’s 3rd down… Oh no I can’t believe it!”. RIP Pat.

  11. Sucks getting old, hearing about guys I watched when I was a kid dying now. I grew up listening to him and Madden getting to love the game.

    RIP

  12. RIP – the greatest football voice ever.
    Right there next to Vin Scully as best sports voice ever.

  13. He was the man during the 1990s when he was the co-announcer on the “John Madden Football” video game series “Oh no…there’s a man down!” will always be a favorite line of mine from the ’94 version.

    RIP 😦

  14. Very iconic voice. There was def something about it. I remember him doing mostly 49ers and cowboys games a lot in the 90’s growing up bc those were the 2 best teams. RIP

  15. We may bicker back and forth with each other on a daily basis about our respective teams, but it looks like we can all agree on this….
    Pat Summerall was fantastic.
    Just thinking about his voice now brings back memories of watching games with my Dad on the couch.
    The earlier comment about “letting the game breathe” is spot on. He kept it simple and extremely enjoyable.
    RIP

  16. When Summerall and Madden did your game in the 80’s, you knew your team had become respectable. Was always exciting to turn it on and hear his voice.

  17. RIP, Mr. Summerall. As a 9erfan, I grew accustomed to listening to both you and Madden quite a bit and it was a great feeling because it was a constant reminder just how dominant my team was back then as you two only called the top games.

  18. The way I remember these guys from the madden games I hated them. But then when I watched an actual broadcast of games they did back in the day, these two were the best broadcast duo I have ever heard. RIP sumerall. You were an all time great, not that it mattered so much.

  19. I created an account just to pay my respects to Mr. Summerall…an absolute class act. You knew when you were hearing the best. I’m truly saddened by his passing. Rest in peace.

  20. He and Madden did a lot of Bears games in the 80’s, I remember being bummed if they weren’t on…There will never be a broadcast duo like them again, ever…RIP Pat.

  21. Pat & John…during their broadcast, you are gonna laugh, probably agree with one of them and enjoy whoever played; most of the time…except those @ss kicking GB gives DET on Thanksgiving, RIP Pat and thanks!

  22. There are broadcasters that are just synonymous with a sport… Howard Cosell with boxing. Vin Scully with baseball. Marv Albert with basketball.

    And George “Pat” Summerall with football.

  23. Brookshier and Summerall had a camaraderie that the Madden team didn’t.

    Maybe it’s because they were both shellacked, but it was great to hear them call games.

  24. Pat was great. Him and Madden were my favorite commentators. Pat was a kicker for the Giants I believe so he was one of the few play-by-play guys who actually played pro ball unlike Michaels,Buck or Tirico. Not to mention he was in Madden football game which I used to play religously. RIP.

  25. RIP, his voice back when him and John did the voices for the early madden video games were epic, he had the kind of voice that was made to comment on football, sad sad day

  26. Mr Summerall your voice was part of my life watching football and will sorely be missed . My condolences to your family . You can put him with Vin Scully Jack Buck and for North Star fan Al Shaver . No one will ever come close to your way of calling game again . and to the 2 people who are putting thumbs down . WTF are you even thinking the guy was a icon grow up and get real .

  27. Man he was good. Golden voice and knew when to let the drama take the wheel. He never talked over important shifts in games – he let it all play out for the viewer. He and Madden were magic.

    You knew it was the big game if he was calling it.

    I grew up on Curt Gowdy and Jim McKay but Summerall became the voice of the NFL in the 90s to me.

    Plus he overcame alcoholism and died sober. That is saying something.

    RIP Pat. Thanks for the memories

  28. Mr. Wright 212 says:
    Apr 16, 2013 5:34 PM
    Greatest memory I had growing up was his call with Matt Bahr’s FG going through the uprights, and his “there will be nooooooooooooooooooooooo three-peat” call as the score flashed up. I was on cloud nine for a WEEK. RIP Pat.
    ——————————-

    “The Giants’ linebackers: Banks, Reasons, Carson and Taylor”.

    I can hear it like it were yesterday.

  29. Most of us can agree that even in the days leading up to his passing he could probably still call a better game than most of the goofs we are subjected to now

  30. “they’re regarded by many as the best broadcasting duo in American sports history.”

    In NFL/AFL history? Without a doubt. Best at the major networks? Certainly

    But best duo ever?? Well…

    Tommy Heinson and Mike Gorman all the way!

    30+ years and still going strong!

  31. We have lost a piece of our youth.
    As an Italian the smell of sauce and Pat’s voice WAS Sunday for me.

    RIP Pat

    Your voice always made all of us feel better

  32. Elegant. Understated. Impressive. Gentleman. Class.

    It would be great if one day play-by-play announcers understood their role- that it’s not about them. Pat was wise.

    “Tonight, following “60 Minutes”…”Murder…She Wrote”.

  33. RIP Pat, You and Madden were a huge part of my childhood. To this day whenever I hear your or Maddens voice it takes me back instantly to sundays in the fall with my father and the smell of burning fireplaces for some reason. I cherish that n thank you for those memories. You will be missed.

  34. “Those of us who grew up in the 1980s can remember a time when we’d turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and know, if we heard Pat Summerall’s voice, that we were getting the best game of the week. And hearing the best broadcaster in the business.”

    I guess you weren’t watching too many Eagles games during that time.

  35. I mean this in the most respectful way possible. I used to remember him calling games, and Madden correcting him from time to time as if he were throwing back a few cold ones while doing play by play!!! aaai loved it and if its the case, he is the man, because I had fun drinking beer watching the game….imagine drinking calling the game!!!! I love ya Pat!!! RIP…..I grew up in the 80’s for sure.

  36. George Summerall was nicknamed “Pat” because as a kicker, the box score would read PAT Summerall. My fond recollection of Pat was as he witnessed his first partner, Tom Brookshier, self destruct during an in game college basketball promo. Brookshire said “Louisville basketball team has a collective IQ of about 40.” Summerall tried to pull his drinking buddy back from the cliff “surely you don’t mean that.” Brookshire was undeterred, “Yes, I do.” Brookshire’s gaffe opened the seat next to Summerall that Madden would famously fill. Great, understated play by play. Class act.

  37. One of the industry’s most under appreciated broadcasters. He and he alone made Madden tolerable for all those years.

  38. Madden and Summerall are American icons. Such great foils to one another yet without being in conflict. The soft waves of Pat Summerall’s voice were the sleepy demise of many a fan’s Sunday afternoon. Especially if you are old enough to remember the CBS PGA Tour broadcasts.

  39. I grew up listening to Summerall and Madden broadcast games. Summerall was the epitome of what a play-by-play man should be. He got out of the way, and let the game (or Madden) do the talking. One of a kind.

  40. His was the voice three NFL generations. Growing up listening to Pat Summerall call NFL games was truly a privilege. He leaves a seat that has yet to be filled. Thanks for the memories, Pat.

  41. I always thought it was a shame that a great like Summerall had to play straight man to a buffoon like Madden. Madden’s act never changed, but it sure got old quickly for those of us who like to focus on THE GAME.

    RIP, Pat. You were one of the greatest announcers ever, mostly because you kept it simple and concise. It’s a shame that modern announcers think they get paid by the word, and that a moment without verbiage is a great tragedy.

    And yes, I know I’m going to get a lot of thumbs down for daring to criticize Madden. You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m entitled to mine.

  42. Pat Summerall.

    A legend. A man whom many enjoyed listening to on Sundays. Most importantly a man who overcame his problems and lived miraculously beyond what could have been a tragically sooner ending.

    Without the wake up call from his daughter, the help and his successful completion of rehabilitation at the Betty Ford Center; and the Jacksonville hospital that helped him receive a liver transplant while with a long waiting list of transplant hopefuls Summerall would have left us even earlier after struggling with alcoholism and its post-effects.

    As early as his passing appears to be many can learn what others can do when they get helped. Many times people cannot get help when they truly need it.

    His helpers along his struggles are heroes because they were willing to save him from his sicknesses. He was a hero for overcoming his own battles and making the best of his second chances.

    Pat Summerall we’ll miss you. RIP.

  43. RIP — He definitely had a good run. Made it to 82, played a professional sport, and then moved on to a profession that he seemed to enjoy and was well respected for. If we all could enjoy as much success in life.

  44. What a voice he had! I am old enough to remember his playing days with The Giants. How time flies. RIP

  45. One of my earliest memories of Pat was NFL Film’s first regularly weekly syndicated highlights shows, “This Week in Pro Football” (see YouTube). He and Brookshier split up narrating the highlights, and I looked forward to that show every Saturday before the next week’s games.

    Many, many years later I saw him in a hotel lobby in DC one weekend when he and Madden were scheduled to call a Redskins game. Pat looked awful, and had clearly been drinking heavily. I was not surprised when I shortly thereafter heard him talk about his drinking problem. So glad he was brave enough to talk about it, get those dark days behind him, and continue to have a great career right to the end. You will be missed Pat.

  46. justintuckrule says: Apr 16, 2013 6:09 PM

    Mr. Wright 212 says:
    Apr 16, 2013 5:34 PM
    Greatest memory I had growing up was his call with Matt Bahr’s FG going through the uprights, and his “there will be nooooooooooooooooooooooo three-peat” call as the score flashed up. I was on cloud nine for a WEEK. RIP Pat.
    ——————————-

    “The Giants’ linebackers: Banks, Reasons, Carson and Taylor”.

    I can hear it like it were yesterday.
    ———-

    YOU GOT IT.

  47. John Facenda, Harry Kalas, and now Pat Summerall. Three truly great voices silenced.

  48. Summerall and Madden….orignal…the best…will be never duplicated…they were honest….today we just like music/arts/ etc…..bunch of phonies full of themselfs

  49. Sad day…RIP Pat you were the voice of football for so many fans. Thanks for the memories..

  50. I know I had been successful in football. I had been successful in broadcasting. I didn’t think that anything could touch me. I thought, I can beat anything. – Pat Summerall

    I’ve done a lot of Super Bowls and appeared in a lot of big, big events and places and the Masters and what have you, but there was nothing as intimidating as speaking with Billy Graham. – Pat Summerall

    I remember Pat Summerall saying those 2 quotes during the 49ers vs Cowboys games in the 90’s. You could hear John Madden say. Are you serious about that. Pat said I dont know but it sure did sound good though.

  51. I still turn on NFL network and check to see if pat n John are doin an NFL classic replay from the 80s

  52. Grew up with Summerall & Brookshier and definitely preferred this pairing over Madden. Madden was more analytical and set the standard for diagramming strategy, but the chemistry with Brookshier was far superior. They were good friends and it was Brookshier who personally grabbed Summerall and took him to rehab to dry out as Summerall was circling the drain in booze. Besides, Madden was well known within CBS as being a total a**hole. He treated staff badly and nobody liked working with him. This is from a CBS staffer.

  53. I’ll never forget the field goal. Watching on black & white television with just one camera covering the game on the 50 yard line, it was snowing so hard you couldn’t tell what yard line the ball was spotted.
    But I knew the Browns had Lou “The Toe” Groza and who in the hell was Summerall?
    He made the kick. Damn him. Spoiled a kid’s season.

  54. Your comments couldn’t be more on target than anything l could say. So sorry to hear of his passing. The best in broadcasting games. Will be greatly missed.

  55. Smooth. That is what he was.

    When he and Madden were on you figured if the game stunk they would make it better. They usually did.

    Every announcer under 60 nowadays should find some of those old games and just listen. The problem is that they do too little of that nowadays. Pat gave us just enough. Not too much and not too little. Just right.

  56. @taintedsaints2009 who says:
    He never added drama. It was always just the game. Such a polar opposite from what’s out there today, where its about the drama, instead of the game.
    ————–
    Seeing lots of comments like this one.

    You guys do realize that announcers are only doing what they’re told to do, right? If producers asked announcers to be more like Pat Summerall, they would. But producers aren’t asking them to do that.

  57. Who is the A-hole on here with all the thumbs down on all these comments in memory of Pat? Get the hell outta here and find something better to do.

  58. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s can remember a time when we’d turn on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and know, if we heard Pat Summerall’s voice, that we were getting the best game of the week. And hearing the best broadcaster in the business.

    Indeed

  59. PAT SUMMERALL TOM BROOKSHIRE this is the nfl and this week in the nfl best shows ever back then, will always remember ‘um. anybody else remember those shows?

  60. For me, my fondest memory of Pat’s classic, understated, let the game speak for itself, style was the 92 NFC championship. “Alvin Harper…off to the races”. Man, I miss those big games with him at the mike.

    RIP
    Mr. Summerall.

  61. My voices of football were John Facinda(sp), Lindsey Nielson, Pat Summerall/tommy Brookshier, Dick Enburg, and Howard Cosell… And I’m only 49. Folks younger- dive deep into nfl films to hear facinda, Summerall, Brookshier…rare treats.

    Who we got today? Hell, I like Musberger since he was calling my high school team number one in the state back in ’73 but he is now in his mid 60’s. Today, just like everything else, the broadcaster wants to be bigger than the game. Find me the voice to call the game, just the game, and I will find you as a fan. Suggestions please…

  62. I made a comment earlier this afternoon calling Pat a legend and was blunt about stating many of todays announcers do not hold a candle to his abilities, especially Buck. For whatever reason the mods of this site decided to take down my post.

    Here I am again and this time it will be copy pasted. Kinda sad when you leave some of the worst trash talkers posts alone but censor the sane ones.

  63. His minimalist style was the best and all current broadcasters could learn from it. He should be in the HOF as a broadcaster.

    But who else now will say, “Stay tuned for ‘Murder, She Wrote” on most of these CBS stations…”???

  64. 1982 NFC Championship game… Summerall “Riggins barrells into the endzone, touchdown Redskins” so many great memories of Summerall’s calls. “Crazy like a Fox followed by murder, she wrote tonight on CBS”. I hated those 80’s Cowboys but I always enjoyed hearing “Septian is true”… RIP to a true legend!

  65. easily my favorite ever. if it weren’t for him smoothing over Madden, I’m not sure madden would be considered what he is. icon for sure. I can hear the voice now, and I remember being bummed when he came off of TV and the madden game. sad sad day for fans. RIP.

  66. As a 12 year old playing Madden 2000 on the N64, this guy’s voice filled the play room consistently while Weezer, Blink 182 or Green Day was playing in the background.

    Those were the days.

  67. Pat Summerall on CBS was the GrandDaddy of them all in the glory days of NFL games. Curt Gowdy on NBC also was good. But Pat gave credibility to the game by letting the events of the game be the game that was being played.

    He also allowed Coach Madden to be himself without interrupting him. I’ve never went anywhere until half time during the broadcast. Now, I mute a lot of the current broadcasting teams. Because my interest is in the game and not a bunch of baloney that has nothing to do with game.

  68. I can honestly say I got to see Pat’s FG against the Browns. What an exciting game that was. He was one of the last straight on kickers in the NFL. I can still see them lining up for the kick in my mind. I always enjoyed watching and hearing him on CBS every Sunday when football season started. May he rest in peace.

  69. Pro football has been such a source of joy
    for me in this life…and Summerall was a
    part of countless NFL moments.
    He IS a big part of the game I love,
    and he will be missed. Thanks, Pat.

  70. Summeral and Brookshier were a pretty damn good team as well. Often underrated and forgotten after the phenomenon that Madden became…RIP,Pat…

  71. I go back to the Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshire days when CBS used to televise the NFC games, that was a great team. I’m gonna miss that voice of his.

  72. It’s funny, but I remember back ‘in the day’ when we (The Brothas) would ask “who’s playin’?”, and someone would respond, “I dunno, but Mad-Pat’s callin’ it, so it’s gotta be on!”
    Class Act that really made it fun on Sundays! RIP Pat.

  73. He was the best NFL play-by-play announcer of his era, and perhaps of all time. Summerall was able to work with such diverse personalities as Tom Brookshier and John Madden, and do so without stepping on either of their personalities.

    Pat Summerall was the best.

  74. I was not a Giants, Cowboys or Redskins fan but growing up in the in the time when those 3 teams were always slugging it out for the NFC East having Summeral and Madden doing a November/December game at RFK was as good as football ever got. “Tackle made by Vernon Dean”.

    He was just so concise, not understated and not overstated. Basically he was perfect.

    Nowadays you have the ESPN culture shrieking like 16 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert over the same dunk they just saw two minutes prior……..

    Sports broadcasting is one medium that seriously regressed with the passage of time.

  75. “Pat Summerall was the best”

    “He was perfect”

    “He was a big part of the game I love”

    “America’s voice”

    All true, with the possible exception of the part where he was bumped up the liver transplant list back in 2004 because of his celebrity status. One wonders if the families of those ahead of him on the list who died or suffered serious injury remember an admitted alcoholic with the same reverence as most of us apparently do

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