When I die, I want Pat Summerall to give the eulogy at my funeral.
I know what you’re saying to yourself, that this is highly unlikely. After all, Mr. Summerall is north of 80 years old and has a far greater statistical chance of kicking the bucket before I do.
With football kicking off again, I immediately recall the way Mr. Summerall (It feels weird to address him as “Pat”, he always had that enduring grandfather quality to me) made himself sound magnanimous and pious without sounding preachy or verbose. He’s one of two people I can recall who does this effectively. The other’s Morgan Freeman, about whom many have already waxed poetic.
I was no fan of the NFC, and aside from the Dallas Cowboys I have no dog I actively root against, but Mr. Summerall always enraptured me into an otherwise inconsequential meeting between the two teams, and the chemistry between him and his gregarious foil, John Madden, became must-see TV. “Montana … Rice … Touchdown” still sends chills down my spine. Don’t believe me?
Here’s Summerall’s call of the Birth of the Legend of Tom Brady: The final drive culminating with Adam Vinatieri‘s game-winning field goal with no time left in Super Bowl XXXVI.
The call, like the field goal itself, was “right down the pike.”
His understated minimalism is a breath of fresh air even still – a throwback to an era where announcers didn’t feel compelled to fill dead air with mindless non-sequiturs or incessant athlete worship.
When I dream of playing tackle football once I’ve reached the pearly gates, I hope he’s in the press box describing my heroic touchdown runs.
I raise my glass to you, sir, in the hopes that your legacy continues to live on in football lore.
-originally appeared 12.10.2007 @ The Love of Sports