By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Members of the university and community came to Teague Special Events Center on Tuesday for a luncheon to hear renowned National Football League broadcaster Pat Summerall speak.
Although some might have come to hear the former kicker for the New York Giants and sports broadcaster talk about his experiences in sports, what they left with was Summerall’s testimony about his struggle with alcoholism and resulting conversion to Christianity at age 66.
“We have heard a powerful testimony,” said Dr. Royce Money, president of the university in his closing remarks. “I’m going to venture a guess that you have not heard what you thought you were going to hear. But what you heard was far better.”
Summerall, 75, recalled his gradual decline toward alcoholism and the intervention his family, friends and colleagues staged to convince him to check into the Betty Ford Clinic for treatment.
At the clinic, Summerall said he read the Bible for the first time, because it was one of only two books available for reading in the clinic.
“I realized that there was a lot of things I had left out of this life I had,” Summerall said. “I didn’t realize what was missing because life had been so good.”
Summerall said he continued studying the Bible, which was mostly new material for him, and he described his conversation with a minister about his decision to be baptized at age 66.
Because of his past alcoholism, Summerall said he discovered he needed a liver transplant three years ago. He received that transplant a year and a half ago but he said he began questioning why he was given another chance at life while others have to die. The answer he received to that question from ministers and friends was the same message he wanted to leave with members of the audience Tuesday.
“Because God’s not through with you yet,” Summerall said. “You wouldn’t be here if God was through with you.”
After the luncheon, Summerall said he now spends most of his time speaking to groups about his testimony, playing golf and attending a twice-a-week Bible study.
As a man of faith working in the media and sports, Summerall said until he became a Christian, he never realized how many people in his fields were searching for something more out of life.
“There are more people searching than I ever realized,” Summerall said, “… that you would not know about unless you make it known you’re a spiritual person.”
Members of the audience had the opportunity to submit questions for Summerall to answer. Questions ranged from his most memorable moments in broadcasting NFL games to what it has been like working with fellow NFL commentator John Madden.
Jennifer Ellison, Centennial activities coordinator, said about 265 people attended the luncheon.
Summerall is the second of eight speakers the university has invited to speak during its Centennial year. The last Centennial speaker this semester will be MSNBC anchor Lester Holt at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Teague Special Events Center.