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Legendary Sports Broadcaster
Professional football player
Kicker for New York Giants from late '50s and '60s
CBS Sports Broadcasting for 32 years
Inducted into the American Sportscaster's Association's Hall of Fame, 1999
A LEGEND IS BORN
Pat Summerall was the signature voice of sports broadcasting in America. Over the years, millions of viewers have welcomed him into their homes, as the voice of NFL football. He’s been part of televised football from its early days. Though he broadcast from the first Superbowl, and many since, he’s had a love for the game well before the “Superbowl” even existed. As a professional football player, he is best known as the kicker for the legendary New York Giants of the late '50s and '60s. He started playing football in his small hometown in Florida. He actually played multiple sports and was good at all he tried. When he headed off for college, he turned down a few offers because they wouldn’t let him play both football and basketball, and he didn’t want to choose between his two loves. In college, he played both, but after a while he decided to stick with football and see where it took him. It’s taken him from the Detroit Lions, to the New York Giants, to the Sportscaster’s Hall of Fame, with numerous stops along the way.
Pat’s broadcast career was something he hadn’t planned on pursuing, but rather something that just kind of happened. He “walked-on” for an audition with CBS radio and got the part. Just that easy, his broadcasting career took off and he was launched into stardom. He went from radio to television, even hosting the morning news for a stint on CBS. Through his career, Pat encountered and interacted with numerous celebrities and professional athletes who are legends themselves. Pat continued his broadcast career with CBS for 32 years. In addition to his coverage of football, he was also the network’s signature voice for its golf coverage, including the Masters, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, the NBA and five Heavyweight Championship Fights. In 1999, Summerall was inducted into the American Sportscaster’s Association’s Hall of Fame.
OFF-AIR AND OUT OF CONTROL
With fame and money, came opportunity and that opportunity for Pat was to live in a self-indulgent way. Though he had a wife and children waiting at home, Pat spent much of his time on the road with other athletes and broadcasters. He was sucked in by the seductive world around him. He spent much of his time in bars, and when he wasn’t in a bar, alcohol was widely available at sporting events. Over time, Pat became an alcoholic. His behavior wasn’t only hurting himself, it was hurting his family. When his family and friends staged an intervention, one of his daughters wrote a letter saying she was ashamed to share his last name. Pat agreed to go to rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1992.
A NEW THIRST
While in rehab, Pat spent much of his time reading one of the two books available in his room, the Bible. He found that the thirst for knowledge about God and faith was replacing his thirst for alcohol. He found Jesus and gave up alcohol. He was later baptized and now shares his faith with others. His spirit was renewed, but years of drinking took a toll on his body. He has battled through serious health issues, including liver failure and the subsequent liver transplant, but continues to trust God through it all.
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