Legendary broadcaster Pat Summerall died Tuesday at the age of 82. His long-time broadcast partner, John Madden, shared his reaction with Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
Madden called Summerall a “card-carrying good guy.” Madden described Summerall’s passing, which occurred as he recovered from surgery to repair a broken hip, a “damn shock.”
“He was so solid and a good friend and a real pro,” said Madden, who last worked with Summerall in February 2002, at Super Bowl XXXVI. “He was always up, always had a joke. Was low-maintenance for everyone. . . .
“You know in TV some of these guys have all the numbers and stats and notes? Pat would come to a broadcast with nothing. It was all in his head. He didn’t have anything. Could you see another play-by-play guy today doing that?”
Summerall’s simple approach came through in his delivery. “He had that thing of, in one sentence he could say what would take others two or three paragraphs to say,” Madden said. “He’d hit it right on the head. That was why he was so great to work with.”
He was great to hear, also. For those who grew up in the ’70s, it wasn’t Summerall and Madden but Summerall and Tom Brookshire, who together every week handled the top game on CBS.
The magical blend of voices cemented the bond between the NFL and thousands of 10-year-olds throughout the country. Of the two, it was Summerall — the live-action equivalent to NFL Films master John Facenda — who became the official narrator of the game with which many fell in love.
If you’re too young to remember Summerall or if you just would like a nice blast of nostalgia, there’s plenty of great stuff on YouTube. From the closing minutes of overtime in a ’76 Rams-Vikings game to the opening of a Giants-Rams playoff in ’84 to what apparently was the first time Summerall and Madden worked together to Summerall launching the first post-9/11 Super Bowl to the thrilling final moments of that game, there’s plenty out there.
Enjoy it, but don’t spend so much time watching that you get fired.