When CBS had the NFC package, I was not a fan of football and didn’t know much about it. Heck, I was only four years old when CBS showed their last NFC game, the NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium, a game the Cowboys would win en route to their second consecutive Super Bowl victory.
I can remember becoming a fan of the NFL full-time during the 1996 season, probably entertained by the previous Super Bowl between the Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sun Devil Stadium in Arizona. The NFC was on FOX at this point, and I’m not really quite sure what two teams were playing. However, Pat Summerall and John Madden were calling the action, and I fell in love with Summerall’s voice instantaneously.
Nothing about Madden made me enjoy his commentary. He was too over the top and animated for very little reason. Summerall, however, never really tried to deliver any catchy phrases or go over the top with his commentary. He called it exactly as it was, in the soothing and mellow voice that defined his career since the 1960s.
I remember the last call Summerall had as a commentator. It’s hard to forget since it was the night the New England Patriots stunned the world by defeating the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Patriots’ K Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired, and the call from Summerall was classic. It was nothing extraordinary. The moment of the winning kick for the championship defined itself, and Summerall let it play out that way. Less was more!
The NFL has missed his voice since his retirement. There was always a thought that Summerall would probably miss calling the action and want to return. As evidenced by his old age, that was not likely. Summerall has now passed at the age of 82. He leaves behind an incredible legacy that has been admired by other color commentators and will forever be admired by future color commentators.