Pat Summerall passed away earlier this week at the age of 82, and I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to say he lived one of the greatest football lives of all time.
He played in the league for 10 years.
He played for Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi when they were both coaches (defense and offense, respectively) for the New York Giants. (Can you even imagine having BOTH of them as your coaches?!)
He played in the 1958 Championship game, what many call the greatest game ever played.
He made the extremely rare switch from player to play-by-play broadcaster, and did so exquisitely.
He called a record 16 Super Bowls, along with also broadcasting US Opens and the Masters.
But perhaps the most meaningful, at least for me, was his perfect pairing with John Madden. It was a bit controversial after his legendary career with Tom Brookshier – an equally perfect pairing – but Summerall and Madden are the voices I hear when I recall my first memories of watching games as a kid. I count it a special honor that the Super Bowl that made me fall in love with the Packers and with the game of football entirely (Super Bowl XXXI, Packers vs. Patriots) was called by one of the best broadcasting teams in NFL history, Pat Summerall and John Madden. Summerall was the refined balance to Madden’s electric eccentricity. Hearing this commentary again gave me chills:
The tribute by NFL Films has been the best one yet (not surprisingly; they always do a great job). This is well worth a few minutes of your day: