NFL Nation: Pat Summerall

NFL32: Patriots have offseason setback

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
9:58
PM ET

Suzy Kolber and Chris Mortensen discuss Aaron Hernandez's shoulder surgery and the impact on the Patriots. John Clayton breaks down Vince Young's attempt at a comeback. The NFL32 crew discuss the passing of broadcaster Pat Summerall.

Pat Summerall never developed a signature call during four decades broadcasting NFL games for CBS and Fox. "Unbelievable" might have been as close as he came.

That probably wasn't by accident.

For Summerall, who died Tuesday at age 82, the broadcasts always seemed to be more about the games than what he had to say about them. That could also explain why I couldn't immediately think of a memorable call Summerall made during the 25 or so years I watched him on TV.

The San Francisco 49ers were the dominant NFL team through the 1980s, when Summerall began his memorable run with John Madden in the booth. The 49ers remained one of the best through most of the 1990s as well. But as things turned out, Summerall wasn't on the call for some of the 49ers most memorable moments.

Vin Scully and Hank Stram had the call for CBS on "The Catch" back in early 1982.

Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen were behind the microphones for NBC when Joe Montana drove the San Francisco 49ers downfield to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.

Summerall and Madden did have the call for Steve Young's winning touchdown pass to Terrell Owens against the Green Bay Packers following the 1998 season.

"Three-man rush and Young stumbles on the way back and fires up the middle," Summerall said as the play unfolded. "Pass is caught by Owens. Owens made the catch."

Eleven seconds passed before Summerall or Madden said anything.

"This is amazing," Madden said.

Another 15 seconds passed while 49ers players celebrated and the Candlestick Park crowd roared.

"Three seconds left," Summerall finally said.

A few more seconds went by.

"Terrell Owens was having a rotten day," Madden said, "but on one play here, does he make up for it."

Madden then described the coverage on the play before Summerall spoke up.

"Perfect pass," Summerall said, his first words in 18 seconds.

"Holy moley!" Madden said.

"Three seconds left as they line up for the extra point," Summerall said just as the kick sailed through, "and it's 30-27, San Francisco."

"And the 49ers are getting the monkey off their back today," Madden said.

"Unbelievable," Summerall said.
Pat Summerall was famous before the whole world knew what his voice sounded like. As the kicker for the 1958 New York Giants, he delivered a game-winning 49-yard field goal in the final two minutes of the last game of the regular season to beat the Cleveland Browns, 13-10. The win brought the Giants a division playoff game with the Browns a week later, which they would win to advance to the championship game that would come to be known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." (Which they would lose, to the Baltimore Colts).

[+] EnlargePat Summerall
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsPat Summerall's broadcasting career spanned six decades and included a record 16 televised Super Bowl broadcasts.
Summerall was the Giants' kicker for the final four of his 10 professional seasons. But what ended up making him truly famous was that voice, which would become one of the iconic voices in sports history during a broadcasting career that spanned six decades and included a record 16 televised Super Bowl broadcasts. He lived in Dallas, which meant he called a lot of Dallas Cowboys (and, therefore, NFC East) games during his career with CBS and Fox. But he rose to the very top of the football broadcasting industry and became the play-by-play voice for his networks' biggest games.

He was the on-air broadcast partner of John Madden for 22 years, and it's possible that team stands as the most well-known pairing in NFL broadcast history. A generation has come to know Madden as the name of a popular football video game, but those of us who grew up watching games on Sunday afternoons in the 1980s and '90s knew Summerall's smooth baritone and Madden's gravelly exclamations as the soundtrack of the biggest game of the week, no matter which week it was.

Summerall also broadcast golf and tennis and college football along the way, because he had a voice that worked for anything and a brilliantly subtle touch for narrating the action without making himself a part of it. He was the kind of guy who could say more than almost anyone in his profession while saying as few words as possible. If you were a fan of the NFC East (or of any team in the NFL, really) during the 1980s and '90s, his was the play-by-play voice you thought of when you remembered watching the great moments of the great games in your living room on Sunday afternoons.

The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday that Summerall has died at the age of 82. He had the kind of career those of us who cover sports dream of having -- omnipresent at the biggest moments and asked to deliver them to the masses as best he could. He always managed to do it as coolly and naturally as possible. Today his voice is gone, but not forgotten. For countless sports fans who recall it along with some of the great games and plays they've ever seen, that voice is not forgettable.

Broadcaster Pat Summerall dies at age 82

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
5:45
PM ET

DALLAS -- Pat Summerall, the NFL player-turned-broadcaster whose deep, resonate voice called games for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82.

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