PLANO, Texas — Pat Summerall was remembered Saturday during a memorial service as "the voice of the NFL" who maintained a humble approach despite the praise his broadcast work received for decades.
Thousands gathered at a Baptist church north of Dallas to pay tribute to a broadcaster who called some of the most memorable games in NFL history, U.S. Open tennis, the Masters and other sporting events.
The former NFL kicker died Tuesday at 82 of cardiac arrest in Dallas, where he spent his final years. He was a native of Lake City and is a member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
The service included a church choir of about 300 and was attended by Cowboys Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Roger Staubach as well as current Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett.
Former NFL analyst John Madden said his broadcast partner's steady presence made Summerall the voice of the league. Madden, once a fiery coach, was seen by many as the storm alongside Summerall's calm. They teamed for 22 years for CBS and Fox.
"I got up this morning, and I thought, 'Pat, I need you,' " Madden said. "I couldn't get the tie straightened, a button buttoned. It was the same old thing."
Madden also described his first year with Summerall, 1981, as riddled with confusion as the ex-coach struggled with the craft and fumbled with equipment. But Summerall "didn't look down on me," he said.
"He didn't tell you he'd pull you through, he just damn did it," Madden said.
After talking at length, including about how Summerall overcame alcoholism with faith, Madden looked upward.
"I know Pat's up there saying, 'Brevity, brevity, brevity,' " Madden said.
"But just one more time, I'm going to talk over you."