Today, I lost a little more of my childhood–with the passing of Pat Summerall.
I started watching football a lot back in 1980–around the ripe, old age of 7. So, the voice for me on Sunday’s–watching football–was the team of Pat Summerall and John Madden. For Monday night Football, the trio–Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, and Dan Dierdorf–was equally as good in my eyes. It was as good a combo as peanut-butter-and-jelly, ice-cream-and-a-cone, Bazooka-Joe-bubble-gum-and-the-comic it was wrapped in, and of course parachute-pants-and-break-dancing.
You had Madden’s bombastic tones over the top stories; and there was Summerall, bringing it all back home–with a simple wit that made the pairing fun to listen too, no matter how terrible the game was. He allowed the game’s big plays to speak for themselves, not overstating nor understating the moment. He once said about his approach to calling games: “say more with less.”
It was such a joy to watch games that he called. I was on You Tube watching some videos of the games he called; it filled me with such warmth, as it brought me back to my youth–a time when I was just starting to learn about the game of football.
And, now, I look at my son and realize that he may someday have those feelings of wonderment about things he loves, and I envy his journey as it is just starting out. He has so much to look forward to.
I sat with my Dad watching football games and learning the game that we both loved. At the time, I was unaware of the joy and good times it brought me–there with my Dad, watching the game listening to Summerall and Madden, amazed by my Dad’s ability to know which play was coming. If a penalty was called, he would say who the flag was thrown on and why before the referee would announce it on tv. I know how to do it now, and I so look forward to sharing it all with my son.
My Dad passed away in 1999. For me, football hasn’t been the same, as I lost a little piece of my childhood then too. At least, now, I have YouTube to help me recall those memories of listening to my Dad with Pat Summerall calling a football game in the background. He was the voice of my Autumn Sunday’s from youth until my adulthood: a simple delivery, but far from a simple impact. His voice has been (and will be) missed. If there is life after death, I am sure he is calling games there now–along with my old man, calling out every play before it happens. So long and goodbye.
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