Pat Summerall, Voice of Super Bowls, Masters, Dies at 82
Pat Summerall, the former National Football League player who teamed with John Madden to form one of the most popular broadcasting duos in television history, has died. He was 82.
He died yesterday at a Dallas-area hospital, said Lou D’Ermilio, a spokesman for the Fox Sports network. No further details were provided.
Summerall was involved with the NFL for 50 years. He was a kicker and tight end for 10 years, most of them with the Chicago Cardinals and then the New York Giants, and was one of football’s premier announcers for 40 years.
He broadcast a record 16 Super Bowls for television and contributed to radio coverage of 10 of them. He also worked 24 Masters golf tournaments and 26 tennis U.S. Opens.
During their 21 years together, Summerall’s succinct style complemented Madden’s rambling observations. Once, as Madden was trying to describe a juggling, acrobatic catch by a wide receiver, Summerall observed, “That guy should’ve been a waiter.”
After spending 14 seasons together at CBS, they were hired by Fox Sports when that network acquired football’s broadcasting rights in 1994. Their partnership ran through the 2001 season, after which Madden moved to ABC’s Monday Night Football and Summerall focused on regional broadcasts of Dallas Cowboys games.
“Pat Summerall is as easy to work with as he is to be with,” Madden wrote in “Hey, Wait a Minute,” his 1984 book. “He’s easy to hang out with, to tell stories with, and I think that comes across to the viewer. He’s just a good guy.”
Summerall struggled with alcoholism and entered the Betty Ford Clinic in 1992. Four years later, he became a born-again Christian. He underwent a liver transplant in 2004.
George Allen Summerall was born on May 10, 1930, in Lake City, Florida. His parents divorced before he was born, and he was raised by an aunt and uncle, who had a son, Mike. He became Pat, he once said, so they would have names commonly used in Irish jokes.
Summerall’s interest in football began early, and his skills earned him a scholarship to the University of Arkansas. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1952, but spent most of a career that included 100 field goals with the Cardinals and Giants.
After he retired as a player in 1961, Summerall moved into the CBS broadcast booth and was originally a color analyst teamed with Jack Buck. He and Buck were split up after a CBS executive said they sounded too similar.
Summerall paired with former NFL player Tom Brookshier to form CBS’s top football announcing team for the 1970s. The pair spent seven years together before the network put Summerall and Madden together in 1981.
In 1994, Summerall was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and won the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.
After splitting with Madden, Summerall continued calling some college and professional games for Fox. He also endeared himself to a younger generation of fans through his work with Madden on “Madden NFL Football,” the popular video game series.
With his first wife, Kathy, Summerall had a daughter, Susan, and sons Jay and Kyle. That marriage ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Cheri, in 1995.
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