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Pat Summerall Was Super

April 17, 2013

During the 1970’s the great Pat Summerall, who died yesterday at age 82, was working on WCBS Radio in New York as a morning sports reporter. He was promoted as “Super” Summerall. How appropriate that nickname!

Pat was a good football player, more than just a place kicker. His legendary, long field goal in adverse conditions, lifted the New York Giants into a playoff game with the Cleveland Browns for the 1958 NFL Eastern Conference title.

The Giants won that playoff game and went on to play in the most important pro football game ever, a (23-17) first ever overtime, Baltimore Colts win. Nothing against Cleveland, (I was to be a Browns’ fan) but the title game in Cleveland would not have had the same national impact as in New York and of course it likely would not have gone into overtime. It was Summerall’s incredible field goal in snow and wind that gave the Giants life.

“Super” can also apply to the fact he was the play by play announcer for the NFC network’s Super Bowl broadcasts eleven times (1975,1977,1979,1981,1983,1986,1989,1991 with CBS and in 1996, 1998 and 2001 with Fox.) His low key style was so great and also made the “slightly raised voice calls” of such plays as  Matt Bahr’s NFC Title Game winning field goal in January 1991 and Adam Vinatieri’s Super Bowl winning field goal in the 2001 season so memorable.

Summerall was at his best as a toned down but superb analyst working with Ray Scott,who was the best football television play by play man in history in my not so humble but clearly informed opinion.

I met Pat only once when he talked about his book (Giants: What I Learned About Life From Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry). The person who was to interview him did not show up and “Super” as I called him, (as in “Let’s watch the otherwise meaningless morning start, Cotton Bowl because “Super” Summerall is announcing), went right into “Q and A.” Within that framework, he spent time and gave insightful, detailed answers.

He signed a copy of his book “personalizing” it to a friend appropriately, named Joe Lombardi. He wrote “You were there” as I told him that Mr. Lombardi had attended both the regular season finale and playoff wins vs the Browns in 1958. He also was at the Championship game.

Pat was friendly, informative, and talented. He was a state tennis champion, a legendary kicker and great announcer all reasons I call him “Super.”

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