Millions of sports fans recognize the voice and face of Pat Summerall.
He has called some of sports’ biggest games and events, from Super Bowls, to ABCs Monday Night Football and the Masters Tournament.
Over the years, Pat has worked in tandem with a Who’s Who of broadcasting legends, including John Madden, Ken Venturi and his former CBS Sports broadcasting partner and close friend, Tom Brookshier. His story is a tale of talent and determination.
He grew up in a small town in Florida, had an exciting professional career in football with the New York Giants and then became recognized as one of the legendary announcers in sports.
Recently on The Big E Sports Show, the Hall of Famer shared his memories in television and also revealed his struggle with alcohol that almost cost him his life.
It was a compelling radio interview, not only about his outstanding career but also his new found faith that brought grace and a fresh opportunity at life.
Elissa Walker Campbell: First, let’s talk some sports and get your thoughts about the recent hire of the Dallas Cowboys’ new football coach, Wade Phillips.
Pat Summerall: I know Wade is a great coach, I’ve known him for a long time. He is a motivator and a mold of his father. I’m just surprised that owner Jerry Jones picked someone of his age, especially after Bill Parcells said that he had enough at the age of 65. Wade Phillips is not too far behind Bill in that category. The hire surprised me a little bit, but I think the job is certainly in good hands with the hiring of Wade Phillips.
EWC: Pat, you’ve enjoyed a huge career in broadcasting calling some of the biggest games. And you have recently released a new book that shares the highs and lows in the booth and reveals your struggle with alcohol. Why did you provide such a provocative and intimate look at your life?
PS: No. 1, I wanted the reader to know that it’s never too late to make a change in your beliefs and your life. When you become a Christian you look at things a little bit differently. No. 2. if you do get a second chance or a third chance as many of us do … take advantage of it! Go ahead and make a change! Yes, it’s abrupt sometimes and a shock sometimes but don’t ever be afraid to make a change.
EWC: In your autobiography you reveal that alcohol almost cost you your life. How did this happen?
PS: There is the perception that in order to hit the bottom you have to be down in the ditch drunk and not remember what happened. But that is not true. I never got to that point. I never got to the place where I could not perform while on the air. But I got to my bottom! When you realize that you’re bottoming out and really harming your health, your life, your friends and family ... and when you make that admission and get honest with yourself, you can get on to recovery.
EWC: Since having the liver transplant, you have had the opportunity to meet the family of your donor. Share what that experience was like for you?
PS: First of all, I had no idea what to say. There is no reservoir of words to fall back on. I mean, what do you say? “Thank you, you saved my life, God bless you.” It was a very emotional meeting. A lot of tears — mine, theirs, my wife’s. And when the donor’s mother hugged me and said, “I feel like I’m hugging my son ... the tears were really flowing.”
Be sure and tune into Elissa Walker Campbell’s weekly sports talk radio magazine program on Fox Sports Radio 1460 AM KHFX from 11 a.m. to 12 Saturdays.