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SBD/April 17, 2013/People and Pop CulturePrint All
Former CBS and Fox announcer PAT SUMMERALL died yesterday at the age of 82 at Zale Lipshy University Hospital in Dallas, where he "was recovering from surgery for a broken hip," according to Barry Horn of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Summerall's "minimalist staccato style coupled with a deep, authoritative voice was his trademark as the pre-eminent NFL voice for a generation of television viewers." Summerall worked 16 Super Bowls in a "network career that began at CBS in 1962 and ended at Fox in 2002." In addition to calling the NFL, Summerall called NBA games for CBS and was the net's "lead voice on golf and tennis broadcasts." He "worked 27 Masters and 20 tennis U.S. Opens." In the 21 seasons in which Summerall "worked alongside" analyst JOHN MADDEN, they "grew into America’s most popular sports broadcast team." Madden was the "first broadcaster Fox hired when it outbid CBS for NFL rights beginning in 1994," and he "insisted that Summerall be the second." He played football, basketball and baseball at the Univ. of Arkansas and played pro ball in the MLB Cardinals organization "before moving on to a career in the NFL." Later in life, he was "part of an investment group that in the late 1970s owned a piece" of the Celtics. Summerall "drank heavily in his early years at CBS," and the net in '81 "broke up its No. 1 NFL team" consisting of Summerall and TOM BROOKSHIER "in part because their long nights of partying bled into their broadcasts." In April '04, Summerall received a liver transplant due to his alcoholism (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/17). FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com's Keith Whitmire noted Summerall was the "television voice of the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Fox" from '07-10. One of his "last assignments for Fox was serving as a special contributor" for the '11 Cotton Bowl during the game's 75th anniversary celebration" (FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com, 4/16).
LEAVING A LEGACY: FOXSPORTS.com's Peter Schrager wrote along with Madden and late NFL Films’ narrator JOHN FACENDA, Summerall will be "remembered as one of the three voices most associated with professional football" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/17). NBC’s Brian Williams said Summerall “helped set the modern-day standard for play-by-play as an art form” (“Nightly News,” NBC, 4/16). On Long Island, Neil Best writes Summerall "became a fixture in American living rooms and bars, known as a minimalist and voice of calm in a TV world full of yellers" (NEWSDAY, 4/17). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, “His style was spare, his voice was as smooth as velvet.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said when you heard Summerall, it said “big, big game.” Wilbon: “Summerall was so classic. Just his voice was so rich and full and you just wish you could hear more of it” (“PTI,” ESPN, 4/16). NFL Network's Eric Davis said, "He was so smooth and he told the story so well that he was a part of the game. He didn’t try to stand out. He didn’t need to stand out” (“NFL AM,” NFLN, 4/17). ESPN’s Steve Young said when Summerall “spoke, you listened." Young: "He was the most authoritative voice. When you heard it, you knew it was a big game" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 4/16). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes "no matter how unimportant the game, the sound of Summerall's voice gave it big-game importance." Summerall's voice, "tinged with a Southern lilt, brought a certain credibility to NFL football." This was "class," as he was "no screaming huckster selling the game with catch phrases and gimmicks." There is "no doubt without his partner's skills and temperament, Madden never would have reached the heights he achieved" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/17). ESPN DALLAS' Richard Durrett wrote Summerall "had a way of making you feel welcome, earning your respect and making you want to watch and listen." Summerall was "never bigger than the event, stepping back and letting the pictures tell the story when necessary" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 4/16). ESPN.com's Steve Wulf wrote Summerall "always gave the impression that he not only knew what he was talking about, but that he loved talking about it, too" (ESPN.com, 4/17).
THE PERFECT COMPLEMENT: In L.A., Scott Collins writes Summerall provided the "perfect play-by-play foil" to Madden's color commentary. Collins: "Precise and circumspect, with an avuncular demeanor and an authorative voice whose provenance was impossible to pin down, Summerall indulged his partner's many appetites and asides, even when that meant being elbowed aside at the mike and in the limelight" (L.A. TIMES, 4/17). The AP's Stephen Hawkins wrote Summerall had a "simple, understated style that was the perfect complement for the 'booms!' and 'bangs!' of Madden" (AP, 4/16). In N.Y., Don Burke writes few play-by-play men "in the history of sports broadcasting had such an impact or enjoyed such popularity employing such an economy of words." Summerall was the "perfect complement to the bombastic, stream of consciousness" style of Madden (N.Y. POST, 4/17). NFL Network's Mark Kriegel said Summerall was the “guy who made Madden possible” because he had the “gravitas that Madden could play off." Kriegel: "In many respects, I’m not sure that Madden would have been Madden if not for Pat Summerall" ("NFL AM," NFLN, 4/17). ESPN's Mike Tirico said Summerall “played straight man to the partner he had by his side and he made every moment just as big as it was supposed to be" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 4/16). GRANTLAND's Chuck Klosterman wrote, "I can't imagine an analyst Summerall would not have flourished alongside." How could you "clash with a man who only did exactly what he was supposed to do?" (GRANTLAND.com, 4/16). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes Summerall had "one of the best voices," and he was the "best partner and best friend any color analyst ever had" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/17).
A MAN OF FEW WORDS: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote no play-by-play announcer "understood the concept of his medium better than Pat, who was able to say so much by saying so very little." While "most of today's sports TV play by play men can't stop talking, Pat always understood that the picture didn't require much" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 4/16). In N.Y., Richard Goldstein writes Summerall "shunned the dramatic turn, preferring an understated and spare style in doing the play-by-play." He "largely let the action on the screen speak for itself." The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences "gave him a lifetime achievement award" in '94, while the Pro Football HOF "honored him with its Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/17). ESPN.com's Dan Graziano wrote Summerall had a "voice that worked for anything and a brilliantly subtle touch for narrating the action without making himself a part of it" (ESPN.com, 4/16). Cowboys radio play-by-play voice BRAD SHAM said, "Professionally he should have been the model for every television play-by-play person. He was living proof that less could be more" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 4/16).
ROLE IN GROWING THE NFL: YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote Summerall was "one of the NFL's distinctive voices as the league grew by leaps and bounds," which "might not be coincidental" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/16). ESPN's Adam Schefter said one of the reasons "so many people developed a passion for this sport is because of the games he broadcasted and the style in which he did it” ("NFL Live," ESPN, 4/16). CBSSPORTS.com's Clark Judge wrote Summerall was "someone who helped make the NFL what it is today -- which is enormously popular -- not only by what he said on the air but by what he did on the field." Judge: "It was the voices of Summerall and RAY SCOTT and Madden, not to mention the 'Monday Night Football' crew, that I associated with the growth of the NFL through television" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/16).
SHOWING VERSATILITY: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes Summerall, "like most ex-athletes," began his broadcast career as a color analyst. But CBS in '74 "thought his voice sounded confusingly similar to on-air partner JACK BUCK, so he was switched to play-by-play" (USA TODAY, 4/17). NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal wrote Summerall showed "incredible versatility." He transitioned to play-by-play duties with his "classic, understated style." Madden in a statement said, "Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be" (NFL.com, 4/16). Sham said, "He was what TV play-by-play men should all emulate. He was the personification of style, wit, grace and humor." Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES: "His presence at an NFL game elevated that event. He was royalty in the broadcast booth" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/17).
NYU Senior Associate AD JANICE QUINN is a lifelong New Yorker. A native of Bay Shore, Quinn began her association with NYU in ’81 as a student-athlete and is now in her 26th year as an athletic administrator. She said, “If you walk around our campus, the palpable experience is that it is New York, that it is the center of the universe. You can’t even walk into our athletic facility without seeing 14 clocks for you to be able to look up and know what time it is in Madrid, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Florence, Shanghai, etcetera.” Quinn in August launched an initiative called “TeamNYUGlobal: Education, Service and Sport” to further encompass that cultural diversity. Quinn this week spoke to THE DAILY about athletics, technology and the best restaurant in the city.
Our industry needs more of…
Athletics is a service provider. And I think Division III has it right, and I think NYU has it right. Athletics should be an integral part of the overall student-athlete experience. Both parts are equally important -- the student part and the athletics part. The shift needs to continuously fight back toward service providing versus revenue generating.
The one thing I look for when interviewing a job candidate is…
The most important thing is someone who has an outstanding, exceptional ability to communicate. The second one, side by side, is we need someone who wants and understands how to work very hard. Athletics is not an industry that you can be successful in unless you bring both of those things to the table in large measure.
The best advice I ever received…
It came from my dad, many years ago. He told me fact-check everything and wear great shoes. His message was, above all, substance. You have to fact check everything. Substance is important. But you know what, image is also important. The image that you portray makes a difference.
The first media I consume each day is…
I can’t exist without Fox 5 with ROSANNA SCOTTO and GREG KELLY. That’s on in the background, and then my Twitter feed is propped up on my phone, so I’m looking at my Twitter feed for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and NYU Local.
iPhone or BlackBerry…
iPhone 5. I was a huge BlackBerry fan because, in all honesty, my dad had one even before they were phones. The big, old, clunky BlackBerrys. And he was a BlackBerry guy before he passed away, so when I had an opportunity to get out of a regular phone and into a smartphone I wanted a BlackBerry because it kind of connected me to my dad. But after I had the iPhone in my hands for about 10 minutes, I said “I can’t give it up.” And I think because of the access to media. I feel that I can do things much more efficiently when I can be checking in very, very quickly with Twitter and Facebook as a news reel, as my own news reel, knowing what’s going on in the world. I feel very connected to the world in that way.
A technology that has changed the way I work…
It’s a combination. The MacBook Air, once I switched over to something so powerful and so light that you could practically put it in your pocket. I have a desktop computer, but really the switch to the iPhone and MacBook Air, it just changed things for me. Everywhere I am, I am my own completely self-sufficient office.
The best restaurant in N.Y. is…
It has got to be Tamarind’s Indian restaurant on Park and 21st. It’s just one of the greatest dining experiences in New York.
My favorite way to relax is…
Read. I’m really all about the JANE AUSTEN books right now. So that’s when I get home, when if I’ve got extra fluid in my eyes, that’s what I want to do. And listen to the Piano Guys on Spotify.
A TV show that is always DVR’d is…
"Downton Abbey," but that’s just a short series. "NCIS" always has to be DVR’d and watched. I love that the good guy always wins, that’s really important in my life and I love the discipline of anything related to the military.
The NASL N.Y. Cosmos named former MLSer LUKE SASSANO Assistant Technical Dir. Cosmos COO Erik Stover said that Sassano in addition to scouting will "negotiate contracts and be responsible for managing the roster's salary budget" (NYPOST.com, 4/16)....Univ. of Louisiana-Monroe AD BOBBY STAUB announced his resignation effective July 1. He has served in the role since '04 (SHREVEPORT TIMES, 4/16)....Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO and Nets investor BRUCE RATNER announced Forest City Ratner Exec VP MARYANNE GILMARTIN will succeed him as President & CEO. Ratner will remain Exec Chair (Forest City Ratner).
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The family of Patriots & MLS Revolution Owner ROBERT KRAFT yesterday announced that both teams' foundations will "collect donations online, with funds earmarked to assist with victim recovery" from the Boston Marathon bombings. The Kraft family will "match the first $100,000 in donations" (BOSTONHERALD.com, 4/16). Meanwhile, Patriots DT VINCE WILFORK announced that he would "take proceeds toward the Vince Wilfork Foundation through the end of April and donate them to victims." To donate $10, text "VINCE" to 50555. Wilfork also "pledged to donate an additional $10,000 if 1,000 people made donations by the end of the month" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/17).
ON THE BIG BUS: The Bobcats and Lowe's are partnering to donate a full-service literacy bus that will encourage reading and learning programs for Charlotte-area youth ages 5-13. The bus will feature Bobcats and Lowe's branding, as well as an NBA hardwood floor on the outside (Bobcats). In Charlotte, Mike Price writes it is "yet another gesture" by Bobcats Owner MICHAEL JORDAN to "show he's serious" about the team becoming invested in the community. Team officials said that "up to 6,000 books will be given out annually" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/17).
STEPPING UP: USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell notes Ravens DE CHRIS CANTY yesterday was "at a domestic violence prevention seminar in the ballroom of an Inner Harbor Hotel." The seminar, part of a "national initiative, was aimed at educating coaches -- from rec leagues to the college level -- about domestic violence against women and urging the coaches to effect change." Domestic violence is "clearly on the social radar of the NFL and the NFL players union, with support systems including a hotline for victims and counseling offered with an array of off-the-field initiatives." Bell: "Canty's involvement in this can't hurt. In fact, more players need to follow his lead" (USA TODAY, 4/17).
CHARITY STRIPE: Every Brewers stolen base at Miller Park throughout the '13 MLB season will result in a $1,000 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin to expand services for children and families fighting childhood cancer and other diseases (Brewers)....Colts QB ANDREW LUCK appeared at an event for a Change the Play wellness initiative at the Riley Hospital for Children (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/14)….The WWE announced the “Superstars for Sandy Relief” auction raised $524,742 (WWE)….Gold Medal-winning judoka KAYLA HARRISON and Celtics Managing Partner STEVE PAGLIUCA attended the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s annual Together Against Abuse Dinner at the Fairmont Copley Hotel in Boston (BOSTON HERALD, 4/15).
NAMES: A bronzed bas-relief sculpture of former Univ. of Maryland men’s basketball coach LEFTY DRIESELL was unveiled yesterday at Comcast Center (Baltimore SUN, 4/17)….The North Carolina Sports HOF has been selected as a recipient of the Naismith Legacy Award. The award is normally for individuals, but “can be given on an ad hoc basis.” Exec Dir DON FISH and ’12-13 President JANIE BROWN will accept the award on May 1 (TRIANGLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/12 issue)….AFL Philadelphia Soul coach CLINT DOLEZEL was inducted into the league’s HOF prior to last Saturday’s game against the Iowa Barnstormers (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/13)….The NFL is “putting players through cooking classes as part of a series of programs designed to prepare them for life after football.” A group of 21 current and former players will “attend a workshop” next month at the Institute of Culinary Education in N.Y. (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/17)….JOHN ODOM, the father-in-law of MLS Revolution G MATT REIS, was “among those injured” Monday in the Boston Marathon bombings (CSNNE.com, 4/15).
Did you or someone you know within the industry run or attend the Boston Marathon and be willing to share your firsthand account of the situation? Please email Theresa Manahan at email@example.com.