Pat Summerall never developed a signature call during four decades broadcasting NFL games for CBS and Fox. "Unbelievable" might have been as close as he came.
That probably wasn't by accident.
For Summerall, who died Tuesday at age 82, the broadcasts always seemed to be more about the games than what he had to say about them. That could also explain why I couldn't immediately think of a memorable call Summerall made during the 25 or so years I watched him on TV.
The San Francisco 49ers were the dominant NFL team through the 1980s, when Summerall began his memorable run with John Madden in the booth. The 49ers remained one of the best through most of the 1990s as well. But as things turned out, Summerall wasn't on the call for some of the 49ers most memorable moments.
Vin Scully and Hank Stram had the call for CBS on "The Catch" back in early 1982.
Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen were behind the microphones for NBC when Joe Montana drove the San Francisco 49ers downfield to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.
Summerall and Madden did have the call for Steve Young's winning touchdown pass to Terrell Owens against the Green Bay Packers following the 1998 season.
"Three-man rush and Young stumbles on the way back and fires up the middle," Summerall said as the play unfolded. "Pass is caught by Owens. Owens made the catch."
Eleven seconds passed before Summerall or Madden said anything.
"This is amazing," Madden said.
Another 15 seconds passed while 49ers players celebrated and the Candlestick Park crowd roared.
"Three seconds left," Summerall finally said.
A few more seconds went by.
"Terrell Owens was having a rotten day," Madden said, "but on one play here, does he make up for it."
Madden then described the coverage on the play before Summerall spoke up.
"Perfect pass," Summerall said, his first words in 18 seconds.
"Holy moley!" Madden said.
"Three seconds left as they line up for the extra point," Summerall said just as the kick sailed through, "and it's 30-27, San Francisco."
"And the 49ers are getting the monkey off their back today," Madden said.
"Unbelievable," Summerall said.