Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Remembering Pat Summerall

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

Obviously we are all still reeling from the tragedy at the Boston Marathon this past Monday, but the sports world took another hit this week with the passing of legendary football broadcaster Pat Summerall.

In a way, it's almost fitting that Summerall's passing won't be discussed much in the wake of this terrible tragedy. Summerall was never one for personal attention, and I'm sure he would want the focus of the sporting world to be squarely on Boston right now. After all, this is the guy that basically got out of John Madden's way for 22 years, only occasionally stepping in to translate for his louder and more famous colleague.

Everyone that knows sports understands that every great team needs a "glue guy" to hold things together. That is just what Summerall was for CBS and Fox throughout those years covering the top game in the NFC each week. Madden provided the memorable quotes, sounds and telestrator drawings, while Summerall made sense of the whole crazy ordeal.

Everyone my age probably best remembers Summerall for covering those outstanding Cowboys-49ers games of the early and mid 1990s, but the man had a career in football that few people could match.

He played in the league as a kicker from 1952-1961, the final four of those years with the New York Giants. That means old Pat played in "The Greatest Game Ever Played" against the Baltimore Colts in the 1958 NFL Championship Game. He also may be (And I can't imagine any other way this could happen) the only man to do play-by-play of himself in a video game.

Those 1958 Giants are a playable historical team in Madden 2001, and guess who did the play-by-play for that game?

It's also important to note that his name is actually George. He is rumored to have picked up the name Pat after completing a 1959 season that saw him go 30-30 on extra points. In the box score, it would say PAT Summerall, for Point After Touchdown every time he would kick an extra point.

He broke into broadcasting, as so many former players do, as a color commentator. He explained the intricacies of the game to the viewer, but eventually CBS saw his talent of "saying more with less" and moved him to play-by-play. The pairing with Madden in '81 is how Summerall is most remembered, but CBS' lead voice has already called three Super Bowls before that.

He finished his career with 16 Super Bowl broadcasts, the most ever.

Summerall called so many great moments with the Super Bowls, the classic NFC Championship battles between Young and Aikman, the rise of Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith's breaking of the NFL rushing record… And those are just the ones that I watched live.

Pat has literally done it all in football, and he will be missed. As his longtime partner Madden said this week, Pat was the voice of football. Whoever becomes the next one will have huge shoes to fill.