Did Pat Summerall Gain His First Name From His Football Position?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Pat Summerall got the name “Pat” from, of all things, his position as a kicker.

Pat Summerall is one of the all-time great broadcasters in National Football League history. After already being one of the best-known television personalities for CBS’ football coverage (first as an analyst and then, beginning in 1974, as a play-by-play man) for almost twenty years, most notably with Tom Brookshier, Summerrall was paired up with former Oakland Raider head coach John Madden. The pair soon became one of the most famous television broadcasting duos of all-time, working together from 1981 until 2001, when Summerrall retired from broadcasting (he has since been lured out of retirement a number of times). They stayed together even when CBS lost their coverage to Fox in 1991.

Here they are together (Summerall is one the right)…

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Anyhow, Pat Summerall is one of the most recognizable names (and certainly he has one of the most recognizable voices) in sports, and yet, Pat is not his real name. In fact, PATRICK is not even his real name. No, Pat Summerall was born George Allen Summerall in Florida in 1930. How did he gain the name Pat?

He played two seasons for the University of Arkansas and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1953 NFL draft.

After stints with the Lions and the Chicago Cardinals, Summerall came to the team where he would be most known for, the New York Giants, where he served as the placekicker for the 1958-1961 seasons. While with the Giants, he took part in the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Giants and the Baltimore Colts. The game was the first NFL game ever to go to a sudden death overtime. Think about that! The very first NFL game ever to go to sudden death overtime was also the CHAMPIONSHIP game of the NFL!!

That remains the only NFL Championship Game (including the Super Bowl) to ever go into sudden death overtime.

Here he is as a Giant…

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That game is credited with helping to create the boom in popularity in the United States regarding the NFL, which continues today. In 1959, the season following “the Greatest Game Ever Played,” Summerall had his best season as a pro, and that’s where he got his nickname/name.

You see, people were just beginning to follow the Giants carefully, and in the box scores, when you write down the extra point kick that follows a touchdown, the notation is P.A.T. (Point After Touchdown). Well, Summerall would be listed as P.A.T. – Summerall. And the rest, as they say, is history!

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is [email protected]

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