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John Madden: Pat Summerall was ‘the voice of football’ and a ‘card-carrying nice guy’

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Pat Summerall and John Madden before Super Bowl XXXVI, their last broadcast together, in Feb., 2002. (Getty Im …

When he retired as the Oakland Raiders' head coach after the 1978 NFL season, John Madden wasn't sure if he was going to be an NFL broadcaster. But Madden knew that when CBS paired him with Pat Summerall in 1981 to replace the late Tom Brookshier, his broadcasting career was about to ascend to new heights. Madden had done lower-level games for a few seasons, but the pairing of Madden and Summerall was perhaps the best ever in its prime, and replaced the Monday Night Football trio of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith as the NFL's dominant collective television voice.

On Tuesday, Summerall died at the age of 82 at Dallas' Zale Lipshy hospital as he was recovering from surgery to repair a broken hip. Madden was quick to speak about his old partner, with whom he worked at CBS and FOX from 1981 through 2002.

"Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that he was my friend for all of these years," Madden said in a statement. "We never had one argument, and that was because of Pat. He was a great broadcaster and a great man.

"He always had a joke. Pat never complained and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special. Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be."

To Sam Farmer of the the Los Angeles Times, Madden remembered Summerall as "so solid and a good friend and a real pro."

“You know in TV some of these guys have all the numbers and stats and notes?” Madden said. “Pat would come to a broadcast with nothing. It was all in his head. He didn’t have anything. Could you see another play-by-play guy today doing that?

“He had that thing of, in one sentence he could say what would take others two or three paragraphs to say. He’d hit it right on the head. That was why he was so great to work with.”

[Related: Pat Summerall, broadcasting legend, passes away at age 82]

In more than one of his best-selling books, Madden credited Summerall as the man who helped him develop as a football analyst. Madden was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach and announcer in the 2006 class.

“In all the time I worked with him, we never had one argument,” Madden told Farmer of Summerall. “That was because of him. I’m not the easiest person to get along with, but he was.”

 

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