“Back, back, back, back, back, back … Gone!” – Chris Berman
“A win for the ages.” – Jim Nantz
“Do you believe in miracles?” – Al Michaels
These are all short, key phases during sporting events, or sports broadcasts, most people remember, which were stated by iconic broadcasters who not only made a name for themselves in the broadcasting booth, but also who have demonstrated leadership, character and integrity at all times.
Now, another short, memorable phrase – “Now I can feel good.”
As stated by the late legendary broadcast Pat Summerall.
Summerall was honored in 2005 for his contributions as a broadcaster to the NFL for over 50 years, at the first “Legends for Charity“ dinner, which was created and still organized and ran by Cheryl DeLeonardis of Ocean 2 Ocean Productions.
Upon being presented with the award, it immediately became known as the Pat Summerall Award and since 2006 has been presented that way.
Those short, memorable phrases by the likes of Berman, Nantz, Michaels to name a few, are all mentioned because these broadcasters have been presented with the Pat Summerall Award due to the leadership, character and integrity demonstrated in their lives and careers.
“Self-praise is for losers. Be a winner. Stand for something. Always have class and be humble.” – John Madden.
Yes, now this year’s recipient, John Madden – Summerall’s longtime, legendary broadcasting partner of who has had a significant impact with his leadership, character and integrity in both his career and life – as the 11th recipient of the Pat Summerall Award.
“That’s why I’m here tonight, because he is getting that award,” former player Ted Hendricks, who played for Madden when he coached the Oakland Raiders, said. “It’s well deserving of Coach Madden. We have a long lasting friendship. Anytime that either one of us has something to give back to the community, we are there to help out.”
Held Thursday night at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, FOX Sports/DirectTV talent and past Summerall Award recipient, Joe Buck was the emcee for the event, presenting and acknowledging the great work Madden did throughout his career.
“This one’s personal,” Buck said about the event. “I got my start at FOX in 1994. When I was hired I was a 24-year old kid. FOX came out of nowhere to get the rights, and the first move they made was to bring instant credibility by bringing in Pat Summerall and John Madden from CBS. I was a kid in awe.”
Buck went on to say probably the most significant thing about Madden when he said, “You talk about big shows to fill, he (Madden) is it.”
In addition to Hendricks, other former players came out to show the appreciation for Madden and the impact he had on their lives. One, former Pittsburgh Steelers halfback, Rocky Bleier, expressed how his relationship with Madden came from one of a competitive rivalry, to a friendship.
“Coach Madden was a big part of our rivalry, of my life, playing the Oakland Raiders during that part of the time,” former Pittsburgh Steeler Rocky Bleier said. “After that, I became a big John Madden fan. It has evolved from a former player and coach competition, to a friendship.
However, the night was not only a tribute to Madden, but those in attendance also supported St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with the miracle work the organization performs for those who are have childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
A portion of proceeds from the night allows St. Jude to never send a family a bill for food while at the hospital, treatment at the hospital, travel to the hospital, or housing at the hospital, in order to make sure a family does not have to struggle to hope their child will live.
“To have lives that are literally saved by an organization that doesn’t charge the patient’s parents to make that happen, you realize how special of a place St. Jude’s is,” Buck said.
In over 50 years, St. Jude’s has increased the overall childhood cancer survival rate from what was once 20 percent, to now 80 percent.
President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude’s, Richard Shadyac, Jr., expressed how Madden is deserving of the Pat Summerall Award and the tie between the sports world and charity.
“It’s a really special night to unite the sports community with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to honor a legend, John Madden, who was Pat Summerall’s broadcast partner, all to unite a great cause – raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” Shadyac, Jr. said.
Now a true example of how St. Jude’s heals. Shon Coleman.
“Shon is one of the most compelling stories I have been around,” Shadyac, Jr. said.
In 2010, Coleman, an offensive lineman, was the best prep player in Mississippi. He had his selection of schools to play at for his college career. After selecting Auburn, the lumps that had developed before he signed, continued. After some investigation, a plastic surgeon who tried to remove the lumps, gave the worse news someone wants to hear.
Shon had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“It was devastating,” Shon’s mother, De Keishia Tunstall said.
St. Jude’s of Memphis stepped up. Shon went through regular chemo treatments for two-and-a-half years.
Not enrolling until January of 2011 at Auburn, Shon fought through the chemo treatments and last September played his first game as an Auburn Tiger.
All the while, Shon got his degree and his master’s degree.
“I’m really impressed that he (Shon) graduated from college and has a master’s degree as well,” Shadyac, Jr. said. “I think that shows you the strength, the courage, the determination of that young man. The sky is the limit.”
Now, he is preparing for the 2016 NFL Draft and could not attend the “Legend’s of Charity Dinner,” but his spiritual presence was there and he was included.
Both Shon’s parents attended and were grateful for all St. Jude’s has done and where Shon and his family have come from that dreaded day.
De Keishia, expressed her feelings.
“It means everything to me to be here tonight, De Keishia said. “It’s been a long road since 2010 and to know that Shon is so close to making it to his dream (of playing in the NFL) means a lot to me. I knew he could do it. I knew he could get to this point.”
Travis Tunstall, Shon’s father, expressed his sentiment as well.
“It’s been a long time coming, but he has pulled through on this long journey, everything has fallen into place.”
But the true message delivered was that without the support given to St. Jude’s through events and most importantly the “Legends for Charity“ dinner, he might not be standing there Wednesday night and might not have the opportunity to one day fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL.
“You start realizing what goes on at that hospital and that’s the reason you show up to events like these,” Buck said.
“Our goal is to continue to gather the support of the United States,” Shadyac, Jr. said. “We are constantly striving to do better.”
Madden and St. Jude’s are one in the same. Leadership, character and integrity, paving and having paved the way to make an impact on other individuals lives.
John Madden, the 2016 Pat Summerall Award recipient.
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