Who was Pat Summerall?
Pat Summerall was an American television sportscaster and football player. During his lifetime, he had worked for many leading news portals such as CBS and Fox. In addition to announcing 16 Super Bowls, he had also covered many golf and tennis events. Born and raised in Lake City, Florida, Pat had an early association with American football and he grew up into a teenager who was extremely good at being a footballer. He played at high school and college level before he began playing professional football in the National Football League as a Placekicker. He was drafted for the first time by Detroit Lions and he further went on playing for teams such as Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants. He was also named as the NFL Champion in 1952. In the early 1960s, he took retirement from the game to work as a host on radio. From radio, he went on to television broadcasting and first appeared on Fox News Channel. His popularity as a sportscaster further grew and he went on working with the biggest American media giants such as CBS, ESPN and Fox Sports. He passed away on April 16, 2013, from cardiac arrest, at the age of 82.
Childhood & Early Life
Pat Summerall was born George Allen Summerall, on May 10, 1930, in Lake City, Florida. His parents never quite got along together and hence, Pat did not have a very ideal childhood.
He was raised mostly by his grandmother as when he was still unborn, his parents separated and left the young boy to fend for himself after he was born. Pat’s uncle and aunt took him in and at one point though, his aunt thought about putting him into an orphanage. But the family somehow decided against it and raised Pat on their own.
It was not the only trouble Pat suffered during his formative years. Becoming a professional athlete was not even in his farthest of dreams as he was born with a deformed foot. He had to go through an intense surgery to make sure he began walking without trouble. Even after the surgery he was told that he could never run or play sports, at best he could walk without any trouble.
He grew up very close to his grandmother who gave him the nickname Pat and took most burdens of the financial aspects of raising him up.
Overtime he became interested in sports and apart from American football, he indulged in other sports during his high school years. He enrolled into the University of Arkansas and received a master’s degree in Russian Literature. He also began taking a career in professional football seriously after he performed exceptionally well during his college years.
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He first became an active athlete during his high school years, where he played tennis, football, and baseball, and basketball. Football and basketball being his favourites, he made a place in the all-state selection in both the sports. But he eventually chose football.
In the late 1940s, while he attended the University of Arkansans, he became an aspiring football player and his good performance on the college level had him entering the NFL draft of 1952.
He was drafted by Detroit Lions as a fourth round draft choice. He was given a place in the team as a placekicker and he played with his team during the pre-season. However, he broke his arm during a game and that put an end to his aspiration to make himself known during his rookie season.
However, Detroit decided to let him go and he was signed by Chicago Cardinals in 1953 and he held his place in the team for the next 5 seasons before he was let go of by the Cardinals in 1957. He was then picked up by the New York Giants, and he made his debut for them in the 1958 season.
He became a part of the ‘greatest game ever played’, which took place on December 28, 1958, between the Giants and Baltimore Colts. Giants lost the game with a 17-23 score. It was the first game in the NFL history to advance to the ‘sudden death overtime’. And this was the game that popularized NFL greatly among average Americans.
During the course of his NFL career, Pat scored 100 goals with a field goal percentage of 47.2. It was an average performance at best. He took retirement from actively playing football in 1961.
Sports Broadcasting Career
Following his retirement from the game, Pat went on working as a sportscaster. He first appeared in radio in New York City, in the early 1960s. He also appeared in many sports shows such as ‘Summerall Success Stories’ and ‘Champions of Industry’.
He further went on appearing as a host on shows such as ‘Sports Stars of Tomorrow’ and ‘Future Phenoms’.
In 1962, he was hired by CBS sports to be a color commentator for the NFL matches. In the late 1960s, he joined NBC and covered Superbowl III with the channel.
Pat had a long term association with CBS and had also covered ABA for them along with hosting many talk shows.
In 1994, when Fox Sports won the bid for broadcasting rights of NFC, Pat was the first person they hired to do the commentary. In the more recent years, he has done broadcasting, hosting and commentaries for Star Sports and ESPN.
In 1977, he was named the National Broadcaster of the Year by National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association. He was also inducted in its Hall of Fame in 1999.
Family, Personal Life & Death
Pat Summerall had been an alcoholic all his life. He went through a liver transplant in 2004 due to health issues caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
He has also gone through a hip replacement and a cataract surgery.
He married Kathy Jacobs in 1955 and got divorced in 1995. In 1996, he married Cherilyn Burns. Pat has fathered three children, named- Susan Wiles, Kyle Summerall and Jay Summerall.
In 2013, Pat was admitted into St. Paul University Hospital in Dallas, Texas, where he died from cardiac arrest on April 16, 2013. He was 82 years old at the time of his death.