By Jason Keidel
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During the NFL’s golden years, Pat Summerall was its golden voice.
The baritone bard of the NFL for nearly 40 years, Summerall nursed an entire generation into the card-carrying, frothing football maniacs we’ve become. His broadcasting career was so distinguished that you’d never know he actually played the very game he framed from the booth in pitch-perfect harmony.
Like many of you, I was reared on football, proudly branding myself a Bradshaw Baby. I was weaned on Mean Joe Greene, viewing the game from my dad’s lap until we both learned to sprawl across a couch every Sunday; the living room our de facto church, the television our altar.
There are certain voices, microphone monoliths, who stick to a sport tighter than the uniforms. And while he did a divine job calling golf and tennis, Summerall is football, one of a small cadre of play-by-play commentators whose names are an emblem of essential moments. Over the last 40 years our ears perked for the pantheon of Howard Cosell, Curt Gowdy, Vin Scully and Summerall, who called an incredible 16 Super Bowls.
After an early run with Tom Brookshire, Summerall formed an immortal broadcast kinship with John Madden. And the two became the faces and voices of our new, national sport, leapfrogging baseball sometime between 1975 and 1985.