NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated series A Football Life continues tonight at 9 p.m. ET with a profile of Pat Summerall – the voice of the NFL. The one-hour special chronicles Summerall’s transformation from professional athlete to broadcaster and details the personal battles and professional challenges he endured along the way.
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Pat Summerall's Career in Photos
Featured stories in Pat Summerall: A Football Life:
- Uphill Battle: Mentally, Summerall lived a fractured childhood. With his parents splitting-up before he was born, Summerall would live with his aunt and uncle as a boy before moving back in with his father. Physically, he was born with a club foot, which doctors said would prevent him from participating in athletic activities. Foreshadowing the rest of his life, Summerall endured.
In high school, he was an accomplished football and basketball player which culminated in receiving a football scholarship to the University of Arkansas as a tight end. An injury would end his days as an offensive specialist, but Summerall was undeterred. He transformed into a kicker and, once again exceeding expectations, he would go on to kick in the National Football League and participate in some of the most memorable games in league history.
- Voice of Authority: After starting out as a radio broadcaster, Summerall would eventually work his way into television and his second career took off. If there was a sporting event, Summerall had the talent to broadcast it. By the time he called his final game, Super Bowl XXXVI, he would call over 250 PGA Tour tournaments, numerous boxing and tennis matchups, a myriad of events and studio shows.
- The Greatest Broadcasting Duo in Sports TV: When John Madden left the sideline, television executives couldn’t wait to put him in the booth. However, the perfect partner for the former Raiders head coach wasn’t as definitive. In 1981, after a few years as an analyst, CBS would pair Madden with two different play-by-play announcers – Pat Summerall and Vin Scully. When the year was complete, CBS executives, after much debate, paired the former Super Bowl-winning head coach with Summerall on a full-time basis and, unknown at the time, the greatest duo in sports broadcasting history was born. Summerall and Madden spent more than 20 years together, with two different networks, and broadcasted the NFL’s biggest games.
- Relationship with Tom Brookshier: Before he was teamed with Madden, Summerall worked with Tom Brookshier. In addition to being the No. 1 broadcast team on CBS Sports, the two cohorts were best of friends. Their camaraderie in the booth was palpable and resulted in seamless broadcasts. However, eventually their antics outside of calling the games became a concern for CBS executives. The demise of the popular duo is chronicled in the documentary
- Greatest Achievement: Throughout his successful professional career, Summerall fought a personal demon: alcoholism. Years of drinking would put a toll on his family life and on his career. After years of battling the disease, Summerall finally sought help after an intervention was conducted by his friends and family. After leaving the Better Ford Center, Summerall would remain sober for the rest of his life – his greatest achievement.
Through archived NFL Films footage, Summerall details his life and tells his most unique stories in the one-hour documentary. Additionally, Pat Summerall: A Football Life includes interviews with the following people:
- Kyle Summerall – Summerall’s son
- Jay Summerall – Summerall’s son
- Susan Wiles – Summerall’s Daughter
- Cheri Summerall – Summerall’s wife
- Mike Kennon – Summerall’s cousin
- Hill Brannon – Summerall’s childhood friend
- Barbara Brookshier – Tom Brookshier’s wife
- John Madden – Summerall’s television partner
- Jim Nantz – CBS Sports
- John Mara – New York Giants owner
- Frank Gifford – Former Giants teammate
- Rosey Grier – Former Giants teammate
- Troy Aikman – Former Dallas Cowboy and current Fox Analyst
- Michael Irvin – Former Dallas Cowboy and current NFL Network analyst
- Al Michaels – Current NBC football play-by-play commentator
- Joe Buck – Fox Sports and son of Jack Buck, Summerall’s first TV partner
- David Hill – Former chairman of Fox Sports
- Ed Goren – Former president of Fox Sports
- Lance Barrow – Coordinating producer at CBS Sports
- Ted Shaker – Former Executive Producer, Fox Sports
- Bob Stenner – Producer, CBS Sports
- Mary Carillo – CBS Sports
- Tim Finchem – PGA Commissioner
- Bob Ryan – NFL Films
- Jack Nicklaus – Former PGA tour member
- Sandy Grossman – Director, CBS Sports
- Melva Shelby – Adron’s Shelby’s mother
- John Daly – Professional golfer