It’s not hyperbole to say Pat Summerall is a major reason why I grew to love the NFL.
Watching football on Sundays was what I looked forward to most each week while growing up in the 80s and 90s. The whole spectacle was enchanting: the players, the games, the logos, the network music, the TV graphics—everything. Summerall, as the lead play-by-play man for CBS’s telecasts of NFC games, supplied the voice that brought it all to life.
Reflecting Tuesday after learning of Summerall’s death, I realized I was too uninformed and apathetic back then to appreciate his understated calls or necessarily recognize him as the best play-by-play man in the game. I simply knew he was a central figure in an experience I loved.
His voice conjures so many happy memories of childhood and positive connotations. I get all warm inside just thinking about him saying that “60 Minutes” will air at its normal time on the West Coast. That was childhood.
Frank Herzog, the Redskins’ radio play-by-play man from 1979-2004, will always be THE VOICE of the club’s 1982-91 Super Bowl dynasty. But because Summerall’s broadcasting tenure coincided with that run, fans also experienced it through his eyes and words. He and color analyst John Madden called all four of the Redskins’ NFC title games during that span and two of Washington’s Super Bowls, including the 37-24 victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI.
Here, then, thanks to the internet and YouTube—which never shine brighter than in such moments as these—are Summerall’s calls of some of the greatest moments in Redskins’ history. I’m sure I missed some, so feel free to add a link in the comments section. Enjoy.
Darryl Grant’s interception return for a touchdown against Dallas in the 1982-83 NFC championship game:
The Redskins forced a fourth-down incompletion at the goal line in the final seconds to beat Minnesota in the 1987-88 NFC championship game:
Darrell Green’s 52-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter of the Redskins’ 21-17 victory at Chicago in the 1987-88 divisional playoff round. Summerall mistakes Green’s rib injury for a hamstring injury because, apparently, those two parts of the anatomy are in close proximity:
Incredibly, here’s the complete telecast of Washington’s victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI in Jan. 1992. It’s more than four hours long.
QB Mark Rypien hits WR Gary Clark for the title-clinching touchdown at 2:57:45. Summerall starts narrating the celebration around 3:57:00, and he declares the Redskins champions just before the 4-hour mark: