Pat Summerall’s amazing life

 

I heard Ray Tucker yesterday on 103.7 the buzz talking about Pat Summerall’s funeral in Texas that includes a “who’s who list” of Dallas Cowboy greats.  I got to hear him speak twice and he always had some great stories to tell. Ray also told about Summerall’s close relationship to Mickey Mantle and how they played golf together often.  John Madden gave the eulogy.

John Madden can’t hold back tears while eulogizing Pat Summerall; ex-Cowboys offer tributes

PLANO — John Madden’s emotional tribute runs long.

There is so much to say about Pat Summerall. How can anyone expect Madden to pack 82 years of his dear friend’s life into a few, concise moments?

The irony is not lost on the more talkative member of this iconic broadcast team.

“I know Pat is up there saying, ‘John, brevity, brevity, brevity,’” Madden says from the sanctuary of Prestonwood Baptist Church.

He pauses and glances skyward.

“One more time, Pat, I’m going to talk over you.”

A broadcaster known for an economy of words was celebrated for his generosity of spirit Saturday morning.

Pat Summerall is a broadcast legend. His work graced the NFL, the PGA, professional tennis and other sports in a network career that spanned 40 years.

But Summerall was more than one of the most recognizable voices of his generation. He was a husband and best friend to his wife, Cheri. He was a father to Susan, Jay and Kyle and a grandfather to their 10 children. He overcame a long battle with alcohol and became a devout Christian who flew to the Holy Land to be baptized in the River Jordan.

 

Grateful liver recipient

 

Melva and Garland Shelby were among the 1,684 people at Saturday’s memorial service. Nine years ago, their son Adron was in third period when a brain aneurysm no one knew about ruptured, and he died.

The 13-year-old was an organ and tissue donor. His liver went to Summerall.

Adron Shelby gave the gift of life to five people in April 2004. Pat and Cheri Summerall were the only recipients to contact the boy’s parents. The two families became close.

Melva Shelby feels like a part of her son has passed away again with Summerall’s death.

“Right now, our heart and our prayers are with Cheri and the Summerall family,” Melva said as Garland stood by her side. “Nine years ago, we were in the place they are now. We are praying for them, feeling what they are going through.

“Pat was always very humble when we were around him. He always thought he wasn’t worthy to receive our son’s liver. I would tell him, none of us are worthy. It’s the Lord who makes us all worthy. I would tell him not the feel that way.

“He did great work in the nine years he had the liver.”

 

‘Voice of the NFL’

 

Summerall worked 16 Super Bowls. He broadcast the U.S. Open in tennis 20 times and was part of the Masters broadcast team for 27 years. But it was his 22-year partnership with Madden that resonates with so many.

When Madden began his remembrance at Saturday’s service, he joked that he needed Summerall to straighten his tie and button his top button. He called the broadcaster a “card-carrying great guy” who treated runners and interns with the same amount of respect and dignity as studio heads and sponsors.

Madden calls Summerall “the toughest, quietest guy I’ve ever known,” a cross between John Wayne and Walter Cronkite. Madden’s voice cracked several times, and he began to cry when he told his friend he loved him.

“There were voices before Pat Summerall, and there will be voices after,” Madden said. “But he is the voice of the NFL.”

Katharine Wiles Luebker, one of 10 grandchildren, spoke of the man they called “Big Pat” and his love of body surfing and all things chocolate.

Kyle Summerall, Pat’s younger son, spoke of how his father defeated his addiction to alcohol after going to the Betty Ford Clinic in the early ’90s.

“He never looked back,” Kyle said. “That’s a testament to his toughness and determination, but most of all the faith he found and the amazing grace which carried him through he rest of his days.”

Jay Summerall spoke of his father becoming an ambassador for the clinic, his charitable causes and his walk in faith.

Pat Summerall began to read the Bible for the first time while he was in the Betty Ford Clinic. His faith took root, flourished and defined the final chapter of his life.

“You know, it’s not how you start in life. It’s how you finish that matters the most,” Dr. Jack Graham, the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist said. “And Pat finished well.”

 

‘A wonderful man’

 

The tributes weren’t restricted to those who spoke during the service. Cowboys stars past and present came to honor Summerall and celebrate his life.

“He was a wonderful man,” Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman said. “There are so many great things about him.

“Probably his greatest achievement was his sobriety and the number of people he helped through the Betty Ford Clinic. He was a great advocate of that center. That’s something he really got behind.

“To come out and remain sober as long as he did was impactful, certainly for me and all of those he helped.”

Roger Staubach, another Cowboy in the Hall of Fame, said Summerall “was always giving, always doing something” for the community. Tight end Jason Witten was struck by his friend’s humility and how he interacted with people on an every-day basis.

“We lost somebody pretty special,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

“Pat was cherished by the Dallas Cowboys. We certainly know what he meant to the NFL, but he meant a lot to the Cowboys.”

Pat Summerall meant a lot to so many before his death on Tuesday. That doesn’t mean his distinctive voice is quiet.

Ask Melva Shelby.

“My son and Pat are probably in heaven right now, in the presence of the Lord, talking football.”

 

Follow David Moore on Twitter at @ DavidMooreDMN.

Related posts:

News of Pat Summerall’s conversion brought a smile to Tom Landry’s face jh38

  I got to ask Pat Summerall a question at the Little Rock Touchdown Club meeting back in October of 2010. Summerall had pointed out that Tom Landry was the defensive coordinator and Vince Lombardi was the offensive backfield coach when he played for the Giants.  Summerall had shared how he had recovered from his […]

Willie Roaf at Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 5

I got to hear Willie Roaf speak at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday Oct 1, 2012 and he did a great job. Roaf: It’s good refs are back By Jeff Halpern Posted: October 2, 2012 at 3:32 a.m. Stephen B. Thornton Pro Football Hall of Famer and Pine Bluff native Willie Roaf (left) […]

Willie Roaf at Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 4

I enjoyed hearing Willie speak at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday Oct 1, 2012. He talked about Mike Rucker, Reggie White, Tim Harris, Chuck Smith, Sean Jones and many other great defensive players that he had to block during his NFL career and sure enough when I checked the list of great defensive […]

Willie Roaf at Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 3

Willie Roaf did a great job on Oct 1, 2012 at the Little Rock Touchdown Club. His father asked him to tell the story about the 1992 Bama game. Here it is below:   Willie Roaf vs. Alabama, 1992 Louisiana Tech offensive guard Willie Roaf tears the helmet off of all-time Alabama right defensive end […]

Willie Roaf at Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 2

I really enjoyed the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday Oct 1, 2012. He was passed over by the Razorbacks and other big time schools because of his size but he turned out to be a very special player. Jim Harris: Willie Roaf Stands Tall For Pine Bluff, State As NFL Hall Of Famer by […]

Willie Roaf at Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 1

I enjoyed hearing Willie speak today at the Little Rock Touchdown Club. He actually played with the New Orleans Saints the same time that Wayne Martin did. He got block some NFL greats like Reggie White, Kevin Green and Tim Harris. Here is a great story about Willie below: Willie Roaf’s road to greatness Wright […]

John L. Smith to speak today at Little Rock Touchdown Club

John L. Smith is to speak at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday Sept 24, 2011. I am proud of him for showing up. Bill Vickery had some comments on the debacle on Saturday. Vickery said it totally removed the earlier nightmare he had since he was 7 years old when he witnessed his […]

Randy White speaks to Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 2

Randy White spoke at the Little Rock Touchdown Club yesterday. He did a great job. I have always been a big Dallas Cowboy fan. Here is a story from Arkansas Sports 360: HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS: The Touchdown Club welcomed Randy White to town this Monday. The former Dallas Cowboy defensive tackle is one of […]

Randy White speaks to Little Rock Touchdown Club Part 1

I have written a lot about the Dallas Cowboys in the past. One of my favorite stories is getting to ask Pat Summerall a question about Tom Landry and his answer was a classic one.  I simply asked him if he had a chance to interact with any Christian Coaches like Tony Dungy or Tom […]

Past Little Rock Touchdown Club meetings (Part 2)

This year’s Little Rock Touchdown Club speakers are very exciting and I am really excited about the first one being Mark May. Below that are some of the posts about past speakers. Here is more about Mark May from Wikipedia: Mark Eric May (born November 2, 1959) is a former American college and professional football player who was […]

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: