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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Voice that Transcends Time, Silenced

Detailed concise descriptions were a staple of his persona. Sport was his passion, sharing sport with the world was his calling. May 10, 1930 one of the best and most influential sportscasters was born.
Summerall pictured with color
commentator, John Madden. Picture
courtesy of
Today, the world lost that same broadcaster. Pat Summerall died of, reported, cardiac arrest today at the age of 82.

Summerall didn't start his path to broadcasting right away, many don't know that he actually played in the National Football League (NFL) as well. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 1952 NFL draft. He played 10 seasons for three teams, the Lions, the Chicago Cardinals and the New York Giants. His best season he scored 90 points, 30-30 for extra point kicks, and 20-29 for field goals. Summerall's most remembered moment as a player was the 49-yard kick he had to best the Cleveland Browns to move on to the 1958 NFL Championship game. Then Giants Offensive Coordinator, Vince Lombardi did not want Summerall going in to kick the field goal. After Summerall nailed the kick, Lombardi ran up to him and said, "You son of a b****, you can't kick that far!"

What Summerall is most remembered for in this generation is being in the broadcasting booth. He was active in sport broadcasting for 41 years, getting his start with CBS in 1962. From the time he started until midway through the 1974 NFL season Summerall was the color commentator, he changed to the play-by-play at that time in 1974. In 1981, Summerall was paired with former Oakland Raiders head coach, John Madden.

For 22 years, Summerall and Madden were a Sunday tradition for NFL fans. Madden would rant and rave while Summerall would go back to the on-field action in five words or less. Summerall's style was known for its small number of words, but impeccable amount of detail. One example can be found here. As well as CBS, Summerall also worked on Fox and ESPN in his career.

For my generation, Summerall and Madden were the voices behind the most popular video game around with the EA Sports made Madden NFL games. Summerall was an inspiration to many especially to myself. I would listen to him every Sunday that I could. He described football better than any broadcaster I have ever listened to in my life. Although I didn't choose to pursue broadcasting until 2011, Summerall started my pursuit of that dream. He even was the play-by-play announcer for the second Super Bowl win for the Denver Broncos (my favorite team), video here. As mentioned, short, sweet and to the point was Summerall's way.

John Madden said it best "Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be."

Rest in Peace, Mr. Summerall. I never met you, but you had quite an effect on me. I thank you for the memories and the inspiration you provided me to become a sport broadcaster.


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