George Allen “Pat” Summerall, the NFL broadcasting legend and former member of the New York Giants, has died, his family announced Tuesday.
The 82-year-old Summerall was in the Zale Lipshy Hospital in Dallas recovering from hip surgery, a family friend told The Dallas Morning News, when he went in to cardiac arrest.
Summerall struggled with health problems and alcoholism throughout much of his career, the newspaper noted. He was hospitalized in 1990 after mixing alcohol and medication.
Two years later, family, friends, and colleagues at CBS staged an emotional intervention that would finally convince Summerall he needed to take action.
He spent five weeks at the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, California, and never again touched a bottle.
“My time at Betty Ford saved my life,” Summerall would often say. Twelve years of sobriety followed, but on April 1, 2004, he would once again feel the effects of the habit he’d kicked.
At age 73, Pat Summerall had to undergo an emergency liver transplant due to the extensive damage he’d suffered throughout a lifetime of alcoholism.
Summerall did bounce back, however, staying active through 2011, but not all in the NFL.
Known for calling more Super Bowls than any other broadcaster at 16, he would bow out of the big game following Super Bowl XXXVI.
The matchup between New England and St. Louis ended with a thrilling last-second field goal from Adam Vinatieri, who captured the Lombardi for New England, 20-17.
“It’s right down the pipe. Adam Vinatieri. No time on the clock. And the Patriots have won Super Bowl XXXVI. Unbelievable,” Summerall said.
His broadcast partner John Madden told Summerall he was “a treasure” before signing off the final time.
“You are what the NFL is all about, what pro football is all about, and more important, what a man is all about and what a gentleman is all about,” Madden said.
Madden would announce his retirement seven years later. Here’s the duo calling that final drive:
Summerall called other sports for both CBS and FOX, but he’ll forever be remembered for his NFL coverage. It was a league he loved dearly and one he spent nine years of his life in as a player for the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants.
He retired from the game in 1961, but never lost interest.
In fact, his last contribution to the sport could show up posthumously thanks to an in-person first-down line being developed by Alan Amron in part due to the financial backing of Summerall.
“I know he will be greatly missed,” she added.
What were your favorite memories of Pat Summerall?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]