A Legend in the Booth: 5 Facts That Made Pat Summerall a Sports Icon

The sportscasting world lost a legend yesterday, when Pat Summerall passed away at the age of 82. Summerall suffered from cardiac arrest while he was in a Texas hospital recovering from a broken hip. Known for his succinct and silky smooth voice in the booth, he was seemingly the only man on Earth that could contain the often-nonsensical ramblings of his long time commentating partner John Madden. But Summerall was a titan in the industry, and was held in high regard as much more than just the understated stuffing to Madden’s maniacal, main course turducken.

5 A Testament to Rehabilitation

Back in 1992, Pat Summerall spent 33 days in the Betty Ford Clinic, where he received the treatment for alcoholism that he said “saved his life.” Summerall became a candid advocate for the rehabilitation process, and was instrumental in convincing baseball legend Mickey Mantle to check into the Ford Clinic himself. Even after 12 years of sobriety, Summerall eventually required a liver transplant, which he underwent back in 2004.

4 Video Game Pioneer

Most wouldn’t exactly associate Pat Summerall with a leap forward in video game technology, but he was in fact the original play-by-play announcer for the legendary John Madden Football franchise that forever revolutionized the way sports video games were played. Summerall was there from the franchise’s simple inception on MS-DOS in 1988, through his retirement in 2002, when it had reached complex platforms like the Playstation 2 and X-Box, and was known by gamers as the guy who pointed out a player injury with “Oh no, there’s a man down.”

3 10-year NFL Career

Because his voice defined him for so long, it’s easy to forget that Pat Summerall’s career actually started on the field. Drafted out of Arkansas by the Detroit Lions in 1952, he served as a placekicker for both the Chicago Cardinals and the New York Giants from 1952-1961. Summerall hit exactly 100 field goals over the course of his 10-year career, led the league in field goals made once, and played in the 1958 NFL Championship, a Giants overtime loss to the Baltimore Colts that is still known by many as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

2 Voice of the Masters

While he was known to most for his work in football, Summerall also led coverage of golf’s most prestigious event, the Masters Tournament, for an unbelievable 26 years. His final broadcast for CBS, after a 44-year run with the network, was the 1994 Masters. Summerall was so well respected for his work with the tournament, that Augusta National Golf Club gave him a golden badge, allowing him to play the course any time and even stay on the grounds during tournament week.

1 Called 16 Super Bowls

Not only was Pat Summerall known as the voice of football for generations, he was also the man who called the biggest game of the year a whopping 16 times. In fact, the final call of his broadcasting career was in the fittingly legendary Patriots-Rams Super Bowl back in 2002, when Summerall capped the last second win with these simple words; “It’s right down the pipe. Adam Vinatieri. No time on the clock. And the Patriots have won Super Bowl XXXVI. Unbelievable.”

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