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.