Pat Summerall and John Madden were the Bebop and Rocksteady of professional football, for more reasons than just the fact that they were a duo of mutants from Dimension X. Kids in the 90’s spent ALOT of time with them on their televisions screens, thanks in part to the most widely played sports video games of all-time: the Madden Franchise.
Wether the twangy Pat Summerall was shouting “First Down!” every so often, human-bulldog hybrid John Madden subtly shouting “BAM!” anytime someone was touched by an opposing player, or the two of them were battling the Ninja Turtles outside the Technodrome — my generation has a special place in our hearts/hippocampus for the audio memories they gave us. Memories forged partly on the 20″ NEC tube television in the basement.
Even the 16-bit voice of Summerall was intoxicating. With the slow, baritone drawl of a grandpa from Texas, the former Giants kicker legitimized the often overstated, over-onamonapia’d, deep-fried-football-commentary of the game’s namesake. In a way, John Madden owes the success of his video game franchise to Summerall. Were it not for him, Madden probably would have gone the way of other boisterous-yet-lovable-though-inarticulate broadcasters like Tony Siragusa, or Chewbacca.
Thats why it’s kind of bittersweet to hear that Madden gave such an authentically Madden eulogy for the 82 year old Summerall, who passed away this week from cardic arrest. Refering to him as “John Wayne” or “Walter Cronkite”, saying “hell” and “damn” in a church — he showed us exactly why the always measured Pat Summerall was so critical to his epic successes.
Over the course of their tenure in the booth together, they called 8 Super Bowls, 22 seasons, and countless 121-0 inexplicably snowy games between the ’72 Dolphins and hapless Bucaneers teams of the 90’s.
Although there is no audio or video of this moment, the Star-Telegram documented Madden’s teary final words to his longtime partner.
“I know Pat’s up there saying, ‘brevity, brevity, brevity.’ But just one more time I’m going to talk over you,” Madden said as he looked upward with teary eyes.
“Bye, Pat. Rest in Peace. I love you.”