Veteran sports broadcaster Pat Sumerall died Tuesday at the age of 82 of cardiac arrest.
He was born George Allen Summerall on May 10, 1930, in Lake City, Fla. Sumerall was a terrific athlete who played for the legendary New York Giants teams back in the 1950s. He played five years for the Chicago Cardinals before four seasons with the Giants.
Summerall was best known, however, as the play-by-play announcer who called some of the most memorable moments in sports always in an understated way.
His resonant voice called 16 Super Bowls, the Masters and the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Letting the action tell the story, his calm on-air demeanor disguised the demons of alcoholism.
A few years ago he was a guest on “The 700 Club” and he spoke of his newfound faith in Christ and the liver transplant that saved his life in 2004 after 12 years of sobriety..
“There were two friends of mine standing at the foot of the bed after the operation looked like it was going to be a success,” he said during the interview. “And they were two pastor friends and I asked them why do I get another chance. Why do I deserve a new liver and a new chance at life. And they said, as if they practiced the answer, they said, ‘Because God’s not through with you yet.”
They were correct. Pat Sumerall touched many lives and made an indelible mark on most as evidenced by the reflections of friends and family.
“Pat was a friend of nearly 40 years,” CBS Sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist said. “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.”
“Pat Summerall was a hero to me,” sportscaster Jim Nantz said Tuesday. “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 royalty in the broadcast booth,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “There is no question that Pat broadcast more Dallas games on CBS and FOX than any other man, and this is a great loss for thousands of Cowboys fans who spent their Sunday afternoons in the living room with Pat.”
“Pat Summerall was one of the best friends and greatest contributors that the NFL has known,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “His majestic voice was treasured by millions of NFL fans for more than four decades. It is a sad day in the NFL.”
“Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that he was my friend for all of these years. We never had one argument, and that was because of Pat. He was a great broadcaster and a great man. … Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be,” former NFL player John Madden said