Summerall remembered as a great voice and a great friend

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Pat Summerall played in the NFL for a decade, but far more fans remember him for what he did in the broadcast booth than for what he did on the field.

And the real tribute to Summerall, who died today at the age of 82, is that the people who knew him say he deserves to be remembered most of all for how he treated people.

John Madden, Summerall’s on-air partner for 22 years, told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times that the news of Summerall’s death hit him as “a damn shock,” and that Summerall was never once anything other than a great friend.

He was so solid and a good friend and a real pro,” Madden said. “He was always up, always had a joke. Was low-maintenance for everyone. . . . In all the time I worked with him, we never had one argument. That was because of him. I’m not the easiest person to get along with, but he was.”

Summerall lived in Dallas and became friends with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Jones said today that Summerall’s friendship extended to everyone from the most powerful people in America to the average fans who would seek him out to talk football.

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

Few men have spent as many years as a part of the NFL as did Summerall, who was drafted by the Lions in 1952, was hired as an NFL broadcaster immediately after his playing career ended, and was a nearly constant presence in the broadcast booth through the 2002 season.

“Pat Summerall was one of the best friends and greatest contributors that the NFL has known,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ‏said in a statement. “Pat spent 50 years as part of our league, first as a player on the legendary New York Giants teams of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Pat was also a Hall of Fame broadcaster for CBS and FOX. His majestic voice was treasured by millions of NFL fans for more than four decades. Pat always represented the essence of class and friendship. It is a sad day in the NFL. Our hearts go out to Pat’s wife Cheri and the entire Summerall family. Pat will always be an important part of NFL history.”

28 responses to “Summerall remembered as a great voice and a great friend

  1. So long, Pat. You were one of a kind and tops at your profession. I’d watch a game just to listen to you.

  2. Pat was the many great memories of him and john madden.that was football.pat summerall saying “”he didn’t make it”” will be forever frozen in my mind.R.I.P to the greatest

  3. I will always remember him saying “tonight on CBS, 60 minutes followed by Murder……..(with a long pause) She Wrote.” Sunday Afternoon football hasn’t been the same without him

  4. I will always remember his words. Short, sweet, and perfectly direct… Montana.. To Rice…. Touchdown

  5. If there was a Mt. Rushmore of football play-by-play guys, it’d be Summerall, Keith Jackson, Al Michaels and Frank Gifford, and no disrespect to the other three but Summerall stands head and shoulders above them. It feels like a small part of my childhood is gone.

  6. Just thinking of his voice brings back memories of a blizzard out side, fire in the fire place and NFL football on TV.

  7. No disrespect toward Mr. Summerall, but I can’t believe anyone would watch a game strictly based on the play-by-play man. That’s a bit bizarre.
    I’ve watched hundreds of Steelers games over the years, but I can’t remember one unique thing of interest ever uttered by anyone during a broadcast.
    Call me crazy, but I watch football because I enjoy football and not because I find Jim Nance to be especially entertaining.
    Curt Gowdy, however, was the worst. That I do remember.

  8. RIP pat. he’s part of my childhood, best one ever in my opinion. madden and pat. … the good old days when players could hit each other and PI was barely ever called. and to think Joe buck replaced him. god I hate Joe buck.

  9. Reblogged this on smalltowninthebigcityblog and commented:
    It seems as if the state of Arkansas, especially University of Arkansas fans are especially upset about his death. He was considered a legend at the school. With the spring game being on Saturday, I have a sneaky feeling that he may be memorialized as the game.

  10. Aside from his great NFL work, he was equally great as the voice of The Masters for over 20 years on CBS. A few years ago CBS paid homage to that fact by having him voice the opening of their weekend coverage, something he did for the last few years. I thought of him this past weekend when I didn’t hear him doing that again, but had no idea he was ill.

  11. The best football booth crew of all time was Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshire! Period.

    Can’t believe CBS broke them up for that Madden guy!

    Good kicker, great broadcaster.

  12. Well, you really can’t blame Joe Buck or anyone else that came after Pat. The guy was a legend, and you can’t replace a legend. Yes, he was all world and the best ever. Let’s just leave it that.

  13. Just thinking of his voice brings back memories of a blizzard out side, fire in the fire place and NFL football on TV.

    Couldn’t agree more, the smell of the fireplace and Sunday dinner cooking and Pat’s voice bring up such great memories.

    The only bad thing about Pat’s voice was hearing him say “stay tuned for 60 minutes except on the west coast” or “any rebroadcast without the expressed written consent”…… because that meant football was about to be over for the weekend and it was time to, depending on how old i was, either get ready for bed or go do the homework i put off all weekend.

    Thanks for the memories Pat, you’re a true legend!

  14. Someone, could’ve been Madden, once said about Pat Summerall that if a person had to tell you that you had cancer, you would want that person to be Pat Summerall.

    We miss you Pat, as a broadcaster and as a real good person. May God bless you profoundly for a life well done. R.I.P. Mr. Summerall…

  15. Some people have mentioned Pat’s work on the Masters as well as NFL, but as a tennis fan I will also remember him as the voice of U.S. Open Tennis, narrating many of the greatest matches involving the likes of Borg, McEnroe and Connors. He helped Tony Trabert sound his best, just like he did John Madden, Tom Brookshier, and all the rest of his partners.

    Howard Cosell used to decry the rise of the “Jockocracy” of broadcasting starting in the 60s and 70s, when former players were automatically given jobs as broadcasters the minute they retired, without an ounce of journalism training. He felt the profession suffered because of it. But the one exception he always made was for ex-player Pat Summerall, who long ago proved himself a journalist even to someone as opinionated and judgmental as Cosell.

    RIP Pat.

  16. Pat played in the greatest game ever played..1959 NFL Championship won by the Colts over the Giants

    Pat kicked a 49 yard field goal into the swirling winds and snow at Yankee Stadium to beat the Browns in the 1958 season finale and force a playoff between the Giants and Browns for the Eastern Division crown which the Giants went on to win a week later

    Pat was coached by Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry at the same time as he played both offense and defense for a few years with the Giants

    George “Pat” Summerall was nicknamed “Pat” because as a kicker, the box score would read PAT Summerall – referring to Point After Touchdown

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