Pat Summerall, the venerable voice of major American sporting events for four decades, has died at the age of 82. The news was first reported by the Dallas Morning News.
Summerall was the voice of the NFL for two generations, first for CBS and then for Fox in the final years of his career. Before that, he plaeyd 10 seasons in the NFL primarily as a placekicker for the Lions, Cardinals, and Giants. His work in the broadcast booth spanned from Super Bowl II in 1968 as an analyst alongside Ray Scott to Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 where he was the play by play man with John Madden. In between, he called a record 16 Super Bowls and countless other NFL games as football became America's number one sport.
I grew up as a sports fan listening to Pat Summerall. Whether it was football, golf, or tennis, Pat Summerall provided the soundtrack to the biggest sporting events. And it wasn't just his iconic pairing with John Madden, which will go down as the most popular, successful broadcast duo of its generation. It was his work with Ken Venturi as lead CBS golf announcer that I'll remember right alongside his football work. No matter the venue, the broadcast partner, or the sport, Summerall's voice was always the same. Calm. Commanding. Reliable. That voice is one that will never be duplicated. When you heard Pat Summerall's voice, you knew what you were watching mattered.
His understated delivery made sure the game was always at center stage where it belonged. He never talked more than his broadcast partners. John Madden would never have been John Madden without a partner like Pat Summerall. Perhaps that's one of the greatest testaments to one of the greatest careers in not just sports broadcasting, but all of broadcasting.
Summerall's legacy has been far underrated by the social media generation. To be fair, maybe we've lost our way a bit in what makes the best sports announcers. Pat Summerall was never someone who would compel fans to make Youtube tribute videos. I even tried to find a favorite Summerall call from Youtube to try to insert in this article, but perhaps it's fitting there really isn't one. Summerall didn't need to jump out of his chair or come up with clever nicknames to do his job. In a sports world that lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps on viral videos, highlights, and catchphrases, Summerall was none of that flash. Only substance. Only the best.