Pat Summerall, a former NFL player who called NFL games as a broadcaster for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82.
"There are very few people in the history of sports whose voice told you that you were listening to an important event," longtime broadcast partner John Madden said. "Pat was one of those people. He had a love and respect -- rare understanding of golf and football -- and he managed to make that obvious with just a few well-chosen words."
FOX Sports, the network Summerall worked for from 1994 to 2002, confirmed his death after the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said Summerall died in his room at Dallas' Zale Lipshy Hospital of cardiac arrest. Summerall had been hospitalized and was recovering from hip surgery.
Summerall participated in network television broadcasts for 16 Super Bowls. His final Super Bowl was called on Feb. 3, 2002. That also was his last game with Madden. Summerall and Madden worked together for 21 years.
"Pat Summerall was one of the best friends and greatest contributors that the NFL has known," league commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
FOX Sports issued a statement, which read, "It is with tremendous sadness that we've learned today of Pat Summerall's passing. Pat was an icon in his profession, and was the voice that defined the NFL on television for generations of fans. He and John Madden helped give FOX Sports and the NFL on FOX credibility when it launched almost 20 years ago, and for that we'll be forever grateful. Pat's 50-year record as an NFL player and broadcaster is truly unique, and it will be very difficult for anyone to ever walk in his footsteps. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Pat's wife Cheri and the Summerall family."
Before making his name as a broadcaster, Summerall played in the NFL for 10 seasons, primarily as a kicker, for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants. In his four seasons with the Giants, he kicked 59 field goals and scored 313 points.
His biggest moment came with the Giants. On Dec. 14, 1958, he kicked a 49-yard field goal through the wind and snow in Yankee Stadium with two minutes to go to give New York a 13-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The importance of Summerall's kick against Cleveland has stood the test of time.
"His game-winning kick in the snow against the Browns in 1958 is one of the most memorable plays in our franchise's history," Giants president and CEO John Mara said.
The victory enabled the Giants to host the Browns again the following week in an Eastern Conference playoff game. The Giants won and advanced to the NFL Championship Game against the Baltimore Colts, to whom they lost in overtime, 23-17, in what has since been called 'The Greatest Game Ever Played.'
"That's one of the most famous games in football history, and we would never have been in it if Pat hadn't had that kick," said Hall of Famer Frank Gifford, Summerall's teammate with the Giants who also made his mark as a broadcaster.
After his playing career, Summerall voice became perhaps more dependable than his leg. Summerall also called tennis matches, and his voice was used in Madden's early video games.
Madden said those who worked with Summerall knew they were in the presence of greatness.
"It was an honor to work with Pat," Madden said. "He was the ultimate professional and it was all natural, just the way he was. He let me ramble on and on and the he would sum up the same thing in three or four words."