Football fans across the country noted with sadness the death of Pat Summerall. To me, Summerall was on a par with my other two favorites, Chris Schenkel and Lindsay Nelson. PS had a Master’s Degree in English Literature. His delivery was polished and precise yet friendly and informal. After retiring from playing just before 1962, Summerall quickly landed a job as a play analyst or more often called color commentator on CBS for NFL games. During the week, he had a sports talk show on WCBS New York. Summerall often worked with both Chris Schenkel and Ray Scott.
Beginning in 1974, Pat Summerall became the play by play commentator the most important NFL Game that Sunday. He also did the nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game and the late season Saturday telecasts. Tom Brookshier was his play analyst until 1981. That year, CBS teamed him with John Madden. Summerall’s intellectual style perfectly fit the more flamboyant nature of the other two. They were both winning combinations. Brookshier remained with CBS as play by play man until he retired from national television in 1986. Pat Summerall and John Madden went to FOX television with the contract change in 1994.
How did Pat Summerall immediately land a job with CBS in 1962? In his eight years he was strictly a kicker except for the plays detailed later. His percentage of field goals made to attempted was not overly impressive. For Pat Summerall, it came down to one play in 1958. If this game was not a national telecast, it was close relative. It was the only game the 12th and final Sunday of the NFL season that really had any meaning. December 14, 1958 the Cleveland Browns came to Yankee Stadium to play the New York Giants. The Baltimore Colts two weeks previously had already won the Western Conference Title. The game no doubt went to every city that did not have an NFL team. It also went to the Pittsburgh area since the Steelers had at home game on national television with the Chicago Cardinals the day before.
The Giants defeated the Browns 21 to 17 at Cleveland a few weeks earlier. Today they were 8-3, one game behind the Cleveland Browns who were 9-2. The Giants has to win to force a playoff the following week. It would of course be at New York.
Jim Brown took a pitchout on the first play and ran 65 yards for touchdown. After that the Giants defense gave up nothing. In a blizzard with two minutes left to play, Summerall booted a 50 yards field goal to break at 10 to 10 tie.
The following week the Giants shut out the Browns in the Eastern Conference Playoff 10 to 0. Then came the famous Sudden Death title game where the Colts defeated the New York Giants 23 to 17. Pat Summerall, by one field goal, made his broadcasting career possible.