Longtime Sports Broadcaster Pat Summerall Dies At 82

Summerall was a former NFL player turned sports announcer who is best known for his football broadcasts with booth partner John Madden. Summerall also covered the Masters golf tournament and tennis.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If you grew up watching football, you know the voice we're about to hear. If you grew up watching the Masters, you likely also know this voice. In fact, if you ever walked into a restaurant that just had its TV on over the bar, there's a good chance you heard the voice of Pat Summerall.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUPER BOWL BROADCAST)

PAT SUMMERALL: We're in the magic city of New Orleans. The buildup has been incredible for Super Bowl 31.

INSKEEP: Pat Summerall called more NFL championship games in his storied career than any other broadcaster. In fact, if you make your living in front of a microphone, as I do, he's one of the people who defines your craft. He died, of an apparent cardiac arrest, in Dallas, on Tuesday. He was a former NFL star who went on to the broadcast for more than 40 years.

Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Late in his life, Pat Summerall would say that he was staggered by the growth in popularity of the NFL. But there are many who would give him and his smooth and concise style at least some credit for helping make football a must-see, money making machine.

(SOUNDBITE OF NFL GAME)

SUMMERALL: Four wide receivers. Marino out of the shotgun. Fires. Flag on the play.

GONZALES: That was Summerall, calling a 1996 game between the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins on Fox.

Football was a game he knew well. He was a place kicker between 1952 to 1961 for the Chicago Cardinals and the New York Giants. After a decade on the field, Summerall began broadcasting for CBS Sports in 1962. But it was his enduring partnership with John Madden, calling NFL games, that cemented his place as a Hall of Fame broadcaster.

He earned fans for his honesty, dealing with alcoholism, entering rehab in 1992. He had been sober since then. Summerall also made his mark calling golf and tennis.

In a statement, his former partner John Madden said: Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be.

Summerall died at the age of 82.

Richard Gonzales, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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