Al Michaels on Pat Summerall: A Minimalist with a Soothing Style

By Jason McIntyre

Al Michaels, the Sunday Night Football announcer, was playing golf this afternoon in California when he got off the course, checked his phone, and was inundated with calls about the passing of legendary announcer Pat Summerall.

“Pat Summerall was just a classy, classy man,” Michaels told me. “He had a very soothing style. Pat was what I would call a very comfortable listen. You could sit back and enjoy the game, and by design, he was more of a minimalist in how he approached things.”

Summerall played college football at Arkansas before spending 10 years in the NFL, mostly as a kicker.

Michaels joked, “I’m old enough to have seen him play … I go all the way back to watching him as a kid growing up.”

The two broke into announcing at roughly the same time, with Summerall joining CBS as an NFL color commentator in 1962 and Michaels doing some Lakers games in the 60s. Michaels said he remembers Summerall telling him that announcer Ray Scott (who called many Packers games, including the Ice Bowl in 1967) was someone who influenced his work.

“I listened to Pat for years and years and enjoyed him immensely,” Michaels said. “Then we became friends and everytime I was in Dallas I’d see him. I think the last time I saw him was last season at an Eagles game.”

Summerall went on to announce NFL games with John Madden for 22 seasons on two networks. Summerall also announced 16 Super Bowls, more than any other announcer.