Madden & Summerall's First NFL Broadcast Together in 1979

By davidfunk74
Nov. 25, 2015

On November 25, 1979, John Madden and Pat Summerall teamed up for their first NFL broadcast together.  It was on this day that the two broadcasted a game on CBS between the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers marking the first of what would be many broadcasts together.

Madden began his coaching career after a knee injury as an offensive lineman during his rookie year in the NFL in 1958.  His first head coaching job came in 1962 at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California.  The following year, he was hired as assistant coach at San Diego State under the legendary Don Coryell.  Madden has often said the Coryell was a big influence on his coaching.

In 1967, he was hired by Al Davis' Oakland Raiders as linebackers before he took over the head coaching job there in 1969.  In his first year as head coach, Madden's team went 12-1-1 before they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFL Championship Game.

That became a familiar theme for Madden as the Raiders lost in the AFC Title Game four more times until they finally won their first Super Bowl in the 1976 season.  Madden would coach two more years in the league, and he retired with a career head coaching record of 103-32-7 in ten years in the league.

Madden was hired as color commentator/analyst for CBS in 1979.  He made his debut on September 23 that year when he paired with Frank Glieber to call the New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers game.  He was only assigned eight games that year - mainly on weekends when more than six games were scheduled.  He teamed with Glieber on most of them, but he also worked with Dick Stockton to call the Buccaneers vs Green Bay Packers game which was only his third game as an analyst.  He would team up with Gary Bender as well.

He only worked a part-time schedule that year, but it was his previous success in coaching that would help him transition to his new career.

Summerall played college football at Arkansas playing defensive end, tight end, and placekicker for the team.  He was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.  He was traded to the Chicago Cardinals after the season, and played there from 1953-57.  He began a stint with the New York Giants in 1958 in which he famously played in the Greatest Game Ever Played against the Baltimore Colts.  He finished his career in the NFL with the Giants in 1961.

After retiring from the NFL, he became a morning host for WINS radio station in New York before leaving in 1965 when it went to an all-news station.  In 1962, he was hired as a color commentator for CBS.

At first, he announced Giants games alongside Chris Schenkel before switching to Redskins games three years later teaming with Jimmy Gibbons.  By 1968, he moved up to the lead national announce crew teaming with Jack Buck and Ray Scott.  He later took part in Super Bowl III coverage between the New York Jets and Baltimore Colts on NBC while providing an "NFL perspective".  This was done because NBC was the network provider for the AFL while CBS had coverage of the NFL.

During the 1974 season, Summerall shifted from color commentary to play-by-play teaming with analyst Tom Brookshier. They became the network's No. 1 crew and both worked three Super Bowls together.

Besides his calling of NFL games, Summerall was also the voice of PGA Tour events on CBS including the Masters Tournament.  He also called ABA games and once was a guest for Harry Caray on a Chicago Cubs broadcast in 1987 when he Caray was hospitalized due to a stroke.

The partnership between Summerall and Brookshier continued into 1979.  The two called the Thanksgiving Day game between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, and were scheduled to call Sunday's game in Tampa between the Buccaneers and Vikings.

But Brookshier's daughter had another obligation that weekend which required him to go along.

CBS chose Madden to pair with Summerall for that game.  Earlier in the year, Madden was the third man with Summerall and Brookshier on a broadcast of the Atlanta Falcons and Raiders game in Oakland.  But this was the first time the two teamed together for a broadcast.

It marked the beginning of one of the most well-known broadcast teams in sports history.

The Vikings won the game 23-22 although it would be the Buccaneers that would make their first playoff appearance while winning the NFC Central Division in 1979.

But the much bigger story was the pairing of Summerall and Madden for the first time.

When asked later about the then-raw talent of Madden as analyst, Summerall said "I knew that he was very articulate and very enthusiastic about the game."

In 1980, Madden was promoted to full-time status on CBS and was paired with Gary Bender.  He called his first playoff game that season in a Wild Card match-up between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium.

Madden was noted for his attention to detail including interior line play and blocking.  He began to receive more positive reviews for his commentary on the game as he grew more into his position.

Going into the 1981 season, CBS decided to break up the Summerall/Brookshier team and promote Madden to the role of lead analyst.  At first, Madden experimented working with the legendary Vin Scully and Summerall to see which one he meshed with better.  During the middle of that season, CBS permanently put Summerall and Madden together.

They would become a broadcast team for the next 22 years together.

Summerall and Madden would remain as CBS's No. 1 team until 1993.

In 1994, the Fox Network outbid CBS for the rights to carry coverage of NFC games.  One of the first moves by Fox was to bring Summerall and Madden over as the network's No. 1 broadcast team for NFC coverage.

The duo would call three Super Bowls for Fox during their tenure on the network.

The last time the two called a game together was for Super Bowl XXXVI between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams.  After the season, Summerall announced he was retiring and Madden's contract was up.

Summerall's simple, but vocal calls to describe big plays was what he was known for.  Like "Montana....Rice....Touchdown!" as an example.  He was also known for his straight-up calls of the game while using his baritone voice to tell a story.

Madden was lively voice while interjecting phrases such as "Boom!", "Bang!", and "Doink!" when describing plays.  He was also known for popularizing and using a telestrator to draw light-penned plays over video footage.

Summerall was lured out of retirement for the 2002 season, but retired again after that although he would occasionally call some games later for the newtork.  He called the Cotton Bowl Classic games in 2007 through 2009 for Fox.

Madden left for ABC's Monday Night Football in 2002 and called games there for three seasons.  In 2005, it was announced that Madden would be the analyst for NBC's Sunday night games.  He would remain in that position for the next four seasons before announcing his retirement in April 2009 to spend more time with his family.

Among Summerall's many accolades were when he was named the National Sportscaster of the Year Award by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in 1977.  He was later inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame.  He was also known for being the primary spokesperson for True Value and would end his ads saying, "tell 'em Pat Summerall sent you."

Madden's popularity skyrocketed over the course of his career which led to many advertising opportunities.  He became the spokesperson for companies such as Miller Lite beer, Ace Hardware, and Rent-A-Center.  He was also the spokesperson for Outback Steakhouse which sponsored his Maddencruiser that he used because of his well-known fear of flying.

Beginning in 1984, he announced his All-Madden team of players who he thought played the game the way it should be played.

He earned Pro Football Hall of Fame honors as a head coach in 2006 and the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2002.  Summerall won that same award eight years earlier in 1994.  Madden also earned a number of Sports Emmy Awards for his work.

But nothing he would do compared to the popularity that Madden would receive when the Madden NFL games launched in 1988 by EA Sports/Electronic Arts.  They've become consistent best-sellers and have spawned national competitions that include television broadcasts of those tournaments.  He still has a hand in the creative direction and voicing of the product.  Summerall began to lend his voice to the game in 1992 and did so for games between 1994 and 2002.

In early 2013, Summerall died of a cardiac arrest.  After his death, Madden said, "Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be".

Many years later, Summerall was asked about what set them apart.  He said they respected each other, the game, and loyalty to one another.  He also said that their chemistry on games was obvious from the start.

For all that the two had accomplished in their sports and broadcasting careers, they are forever linked together as a broadcast team.  Their path to becoming the ultra popular broadcast team began on this day in Tampa in 1979.  A family commitment by Tom Brookshier allowed them to be paired together for that first game.  Eventually, it would lead them to becoming one of sports most popular broadcast teams and into mainstream popularity in other avenues.

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