Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Famed NFL announcer Pat Summerall dies at 82

DALLAS — Pat Summerall was the calm alongside John Madden's storm.

Over four decades he described some of the biggest sports events in the United States in his deep, resonant voice. He delivered the details of 16 Super Bowls, the Masters and the U.S. Open tennis tournament with a simple, understated style, one that was the perfect complement for the "booms!" and "bangs!" of Madden, his football partner for the last half of the NFL-player-turned-broadcaster's career.

Mr. Summerall died Tuesday at age 82 of cardiac arrest, said University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center spokesman Jeff Carlton, speaking for Mr. Summerall's wife, Cheri.

"Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that, he was my friend for all of these years," Madden said in a statement. "He was a great broadcaster and a great man. … Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be."

Mr. Summerall, a native of Lake City, played 10 NFL seasons, from 1952-61, with the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants, but it was in his second career that he became a voice familiar to generations of sports fans.

He started doing NFL games for CBS in 1964 and became a play-by-play guy 10 years later. He was part of network TV broadcasts for 16 Super Bowls, including the NBC and CBS simulcast of the inaugural Super Bowl in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 1967.

He was also part of CBS's coverage of the PGA Tour, including the Masters from 1968-94, and the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

When CBS lost its NFL deal after the 1993 season, Mr. Summerall switched to Fox to keep calling NFL games with Madden. He had hoped to keep working with CBS for events such as the Masters, but network executives saw it otherwise.

"I was his understudy for 10 years," CBS's Jim Nantz said in a statement. "He could not have been more generous or kind to a young broadcaster."

Mr. Summerall's last championship game was for Fox on Feb. 3, 2002, also his last game with Madden.

For much of his time at the microphone, Mr. Summerall had an addiction that afflicted his professional and his personal life and cost him his health. He was an alcoholic.

In 1992 he was confronted in an intervention by family members, friends and associates — including former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, former CBS Sports president Peter Lund and former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beaman — and persuaded to enter the Betty Ford substance-abuse clinic in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

"The experience I had with alcohol, and the recovery from alcoholism, taught me oh-so-much about life, about religion, about spirit, about friendship," Mr. Summerall told the Tampa Bay Times in a 2008 interview.

He emerged sober, remained so and became a born-again Christian, speaking often of his newfound faith and the insights he had gleaned into his self-destructive conduct.

"(Addiction is) a thing that you can't overcome by yourself," he told the Times. "I think you have to give yourself to somebody. In my case, it was Jesus Christ."

But Mr. Summerall's liver had sustained irreparable damage. In 2004 he had a transplant, receiving the liver of a 13-year-old boy who died of a brain aneurysm.

"I was near death," Mr. Summerall told the Times. "It takes some getting used to, to realize that somebody has to die in order for you to live."

During his NFL days, Mr. Summerall played a role in what is known in football circles as "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the 1958 NFL championship game. The Giants lost to the Baltimore Colts 23-17 in the NFL's first overtime game.

"I remember that none of us, including the officials, coaches or captains, knew what to do when we finished the regulation game at 17-17," Mr. Summerall told the Times. "I turned to the guy sitting next to me on the bench, and I said, 'What do we do now?' And he said, 'I think we've got to play some more.' "

Born George Allen Summerall on May 10, 1930, in Lake City, 175 miles north of Tampa, he was an all-state football and basketball player at Columbia High and lettered in baseball and tennis. He played college football at Arkansas before going to the NFL, where he was primarily a kicker, making 100 field goals and 256 of 265 extra points in his career.

After he retired in 1961, he helped usher in the era of athletes becoming broadcasters.

"I was lucky enough to be in New York when New York was really the communications capital of the world, much more so than it is now," he told the Times in 2008. "The Giants were good at the time. I was lucky in that. I got called by CBS to read an audition script, which I read, and they liked the way I read. So if I hadn't been in New York, if I hadn't been traded to the Giants … I probably would never have gotten into broadcasting.

"But I knew as soon as I read that script that's something maybe I could do and something that I'd want to do the rest of my life. Fortunately, it's worked out that way."

After his final game with Madden, Mr. Summerall remained a full-time broadcaster for Fox one more season, doing primarily Cowboys games in 2002. He decided to step down the following year when he realized he would spend most of the season away from his Dallas-area home.

Since then, he had done some NFL games for Fox and ESPN, the Cotton Bowl for Fox and voiceovers that were part of CBS Masters broadcasts and NFL Network game broadcasts.

.fast facts

Career highlights

Pat Summerall on the football field and in the broadcast booth:

• Taken in fourth round (45th overall) by Detroit Lions in 1952 NFL draft

• Played 10 seasons (1952-61) with Lions, Chicago Cardinals, New York Giants, on offense, defense and as a kicker

• Led NFL in field goal percentage in 1959 (68.9)

• Member of Lions' 1952 NFL Championship team (missed most of season with broken arm)

• Played in NFL Championship Game in 1958, '59, '61

• Broadcast 16 Super Bowls on television (15 as play-by-play/analyst, one as sideline reporter). Served as the play-by-play man 11 times, most in the game's history.

• His TV partnership with John Madden lasted for 22 seasons on CBS and Fox

• 1994 recipient of Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio and TV Award

Source: ESPN

Famed NFL announcer Pat Summerall dies at 82 04/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Steven Stamkos making exhibition debut for Lightning


    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos will make his much-anticipated exhibition debut tonight against the Predators.

  2. Quick snaps: Florida's streak, FSU's true freshman QB and UCF's prolific offense



     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain shakes hands with Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops at the end of the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7.
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game


    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?


    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. Week 4 Heisman watch, local of the week and more


    Heisman watch

    San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (20) reacts with teammates during the final minute of the second half of an NCAA college football game against Stanford Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in San Diego. San Diego State won 20-17. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) CAGB113