Ed Driscoll

RIP, Pat Summerall

“NFL broadcaster, local icon Pat Summerall dies at age 82,” the Dallas Morning News reports:

His minimalist staccato style was his trademark as the pre-eminent NFL voice for a generation of television viewers.

Summerall worked a record 16 Super Bowls in a network career that began in 1962 and ended in 2002.

In the 21 seasons Summerall worked alongside John Madden they grew into America’s most popular sports broadcast team. Their work for CBS at Super XVI, following the 1981 season, remains the highest-rated sports program of all-time, with more than 49 percent of the nation tuned in.

“I was so lucky I got to work with Pat,” Madden said. “He was so easy to work with. He knew how to use words. For a guy like myself who rambles on and on and doesn’t always make sense, he was sent from heaven.”

Madden was the first broadcaster Fox hired when it outbid CBS for NFL rights beginning in 1994. He insisted that Summerall be the second. Madden didn’t find any opposition.

Summerall overcame alcoholism and ultimately received a liver transplant in 2004 as a result of his heavy drinking, particularly with his on-air partner at CBS in the 1970s before Madden, former Philadelphia Eagles DB Tom Brookshier, who passed away in 2010. According to the two in an interview a few years ago with Steve Sabol of NFL Films (another recent death, alas), as the Dallas Morning News reported, CBS broke up their top on-air team in 1991, “in part because their long nights of partying bled into their broadcasts.” (I looked for video of that segment online and couldn’t find it. If anybody sees it online, let me know, and I’ll link or embed here.)