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On This Date in Sports November 25, 1979: Pat and John

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With regular partner Tom Brookshier away due to family obligations, Pat Summerall is paired with John Madden for the first time on NFL Broadcast. The duo calls an NFC Central matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa. The Vikings win 23-22 as Wally Hilgenberg blocked a PAT by Neil O’Donoghue with 19 seconds left that would have tied the game.

The pairing of Tom Brookshier and Pat Summerall was rare as both were former NFL players. The standard matching had a professional announcer with a former player. However, both Brookshier and Summerall had long resumes in the broadcast business. After a successful career at cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles, Tom Brookshier began his broadcast career with local stations in Philadelphia. Later working as an announcer for the Eagles, Brookshire eventually was hired by CBS to do NFL games in 1968. Pat Summerall had a similar background working in New York after his career as a kicker ended with the Giants in 1961. Summerall quickly ascended the ranks and later became part of the #1 crew, calling Super Bowl I with Ray Scott.

Tom Brookshier and Pat Summerall were first paired together by NFL Films for the syndicated highlight show “This Week in Pro Football.” After the departure of Ray Scott, Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshire were paired together as the top crew for the NFL on CBS. The two would work together for three Super Bowls, but their hard-drinking became a concern for the network.

John Madden joined CBS in 1979. He had just retired from coaching the Oakland Raiders, citing burnout and stress of travel, as Madden was notorious for his fear of flying. Madden spent much of his first year in the booth working low profile games. However, in his first chance on the national stage impressed everyone who watched him work his first game with Pat Summerall.

In 1981, John Madden and Pat Summerall would become the top crew for CBS, as the suits at the network wanted to break up Brookshier and Sumerall for several years. Summerall and Madden would work together for the next 20 years, as two remained together even after Fox won the rights to the NFC portion of the NFL’s contract in 1994. The two remained together until 2001, when they were split up following Super Bowl XXXVI, due to Fox wanting a younger lead announcer while wanting to reduce broadcast costs. During this period, two also became the voice of Madden’s video game. This made the two the unofficial voices of the NFL for a generation of fans.