Summerall, NFL broadcasting legend, dies at 82 (updates with reaction)
NFL announcer Pat Summerall died Tuesday at the age of 82.
Summerall, who played in the NFL for Detroit, Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants, was a fixture on NFL broadcasts for nearly 40 years. He called a record 16 Super Bowls.
The majority of his career was spent at CBS Sports, where he began in 1961. He is best remembered for two longtime partnerships, first with Tom Brookshier, and then, midway through the 1981 season with John Madden. Summerall and Madden became icons of NFL broadcasting.
"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 provided by FOX Sports. "We never had one argument, and that was because of Pat. He was a great broadcaster and a great man. He always had a joke. Pat never complained and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special. Pat Summerall is the voice of football, and always will be.”
Summerall was more than a football announcer. He was the voice of golf and tennis on CBS. He did the Masters and the U.S. Open tennis tournament. He also did play-by-play of the NBA on CBS when the network took over the contract from ABC in the early 1970s.
"There is no one more closely associated with the great legacy and tradition of CBS Sports than Pat Summerall," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. "His voice was synonymous with big events, whether it was NFL football and the Super Bowl, the Masters or U.S. Open Tennis.”
When FOX Sports won the rights to the NFC portion of the NFL TV package starting with the 1994 season, Summerall and Madden made the move to FOX. They remained there until the 2001 season, when Madden when to ABC's "Monday Night Football." Summerall stayed on for one more season, but was relegated to regional games.
"It is with tremendous sadness that we’ve learned today of Pat Summerall's passing," a FOX Sports statement said. "Pat was an icon in his profession, and was the voice that defined the NFL on television for generations of fans. He and John Madden helped give FOX Sports and the NFL on FOX credibility when it launched almost 20 years ago, and for that we’ll be forever grateful. Pat’s 50-year record as an NFL player and broadcaster is truly unique, and it will be very difficult for anyone to ever walk in his footsteps. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Pat’s wife Cheri and the Summerall family."
Some other reaction from Summerall's CBS colleagues:
NFL and golf announcer Jim Nantz: "Pat Summerall was a hero to me. I treasured the gift of friendship that I had with him. I was his understudy for 10 years. He could not have been more generous or kind to a young broadcaster. He was a giant and one of the iconic figures in the history of the CBS Television Network."
College football and golf announcer Verne Lundquist: "Pat was a friend of nearly 40 years. He was a master of restraint in his commentary, an example for all of us. He was also one of the great storytellers who ever spoke into a microphone."
Lance Barrow, coordinating producer, CBS Sports, golf and NFL: "In 1976, I was a junior in college and Chuck Will put me in the 18th tower as a spotter for Pat Summerall. He told me, 'You're not going to meet a finer man in this business than Pat Summerall.’ And to this day, I never have. He was kind to everyone. When you were around him, you never knew that he was the number one broadcaster. He taught me so much, not only about this business, but how to treat people. I’m sad on this day, but also smiling because I know he will be with his good buddy Tom Brookshier."