Tom Brookshier
refer to caption
circa 1960
No. 40
Personal information
Born:(1931-12-16)December 16, 1931
Roswell, New Mexico, U.S.
Died:January 29, 2010(2010-01-29) (aged 78)
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Career information
High school:Roswell (New Mexico)
NFL draft:1953 / Round: 10 / Pick: 117
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:76
Fumble recoveries:8
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch U.S. Air Force
Years of servicec. 1954–1956
Rank  Lieutenant
UnitUSAFA backfield coach
Battles/warsCold War
Player stats at · PFR

Thomas Jefferson Brookshier (/ˈbrʊkˌʃaɪər/; December 16, 1931 – January 29, 2010) was an American professional football player, coach, and sportscaster. He was a starting defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons, from 1953 to 1961. He later paired with Pat Summerall on the primary broadcast team for NFL games on CBS during the 1970s.

Early life

Born and raised in Roswell, New Mexico, Brookshier graduated from Roswell High School in 1949. At RHS, he received all-state honors in football, basketball, and baseball.

As a three-year letterman in football at the University of Colorado (195052), he was a defensive back, fullback, and return specialist.[1] One of his gridiron teammates was astronaut Jack Swigert, a crew member of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission in 1970, and a congressman-elect in 1982.[2]

Brookshier was also a relief pitcher on the CU baseball team,[1] and played one season of minor league baseball in 1954 for the Roswell Rockets of the class-D Longhorn League.

NFL career

A tenth-round selection (117th overall) in the 1953 NFL Draft, Brookshier played defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League from 1953 to 1961, missing both the 1954 and 1955 seasons to serve in the United States Air Force. A starter on the Eagles' NFL Championship team in 1960, he was selected for the Pro Bowl twice.

At age 29, Brookshier's playing career ended midway through the 1961 season; he sustained a compound fracture of his right leg while making a tackle on Willie Galimore in the 16–14 victory over the Chicago Bears at Franklin Field on November 5.[3][4][5][6] He was a member of the Eagles' Honor Roll and was one of only eight players whose numbers were retired by the team; Brookshier's number was 40.

As a lieutenant, he was a backfield coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy for a season in 1955.[7]

Broadcasting career

Brookshier began sportscasting for WCAU-AM-FM-TV in Philadelphia in 1962, and became the station's sports director the following year.[8] He joined CBS in 1965 as a color commentator for Eagles telecasts, and continued to call regional action after the network moved away from dedicated team announcers in 1968.

In the early 1970s, Brookshier and Summerall co-hosted This Week in Pro Football, a weekly syndicated highlights show produced by NFL Films. After CBS dismissed its main pro football voice Ray Scott in 1974,[9] the network went against its standard practice of using a professional announcer for play-by-play by promoting Summerall and partnering him with Brookshier.[10] The two former NFL players became arguably U.S. television's most popular sports broadcasting team for the remainder of the decade. Describing the pair's on-air rapport, Summerall said, "With Brookie, it was more of a conversation, like two guys in a saloon."[11] CBS, however, eventually found that their pairing exacerbated each of their respective issues with alcohol (Summerall admitted later that they would do heavy drinking the night before games) and desired more excitement in the booth, as their call of Super Bowl XIV had received mixed reviews.[12] As such, when John Madden soon became an in-demand voice to utilize in broadcasting for CBS, they decided quickly to find a play-by-play voice to pair him with. To Summerall's chagrin, they paired him with Madden for select broadcasts starting in 1981 The result was deemed successful to maintain the two as the lead pair for CBS broadcasts for the decade to come.[13] Besides many regular-season and playoff contests, most of which involved the Dallas Cowboys who were the National Football Conference's most dominant franchise at the time, the duo had called Super Bowls X, XII, and XIV. Brookshier also worked pre-game and post-game shows for four other Super Bowls. He and Summerall also appeared as themselves in the 1977 motion picture Black Sunday, which was partially filmed at Super Bowl X.

In 1976, Brookshier and Summerall called a heavyweight title fight between Muhammad Ali and Jean Pierre Coopman live in prime time from Puerto Rico on Friday, February 20.[14][15] Brent Musburger and Phyllis George of The NFL Today co-hosted the telecast that night. Meanwhile, Don Dunphy supplied some commentary between rounds. A month earlier, CBS assigned Summerall and Brookshier to announce a Ken Norton bout against Pedro Lovell, a mere eight days before they called Super Bowl X.

Retired Oakland Raiders head coach John Madden joined CBS as a color analyst in 1979; when he was paired with Summerall on the primary broadcast team in 1981, Brookshier switched to calling play-by-play.[16]


Brookshier became the subject of controversy because of a remark he made in 1983 during an NFL broadcast of an EaglesSaints game on December 11. After a program note for an upcoming telecast of an NCAA men's basketball game between defending national champion North Carolina State and Louisville, Brookshier said that the Louisville players had "a collective I.Q. of about forty, but they can play basketball." Given a chance to walk back the statement by partner Charlie Waters, Brookshier doubled down, saying "it's the truth."[17]

This resulted in Neal Pilson, then president of CBS Sports, apologizing to Louisville school officials and later suspending Brookshier for the last weekend of the NFL regular season.[18] Louisville's athletic director, Bill Olsen, felt that the remark was racist, since Louisville's starting five were all African American. Brookshier later apologized, calling his remark "stupid" and "dumb", but was angered over CBS's reaction, saying "I'm not about to be judged on one comment." He added, "I've done a lot of things for charity. Now my own network is bailing out on me and taking me off the air. After 20 years at CBS, I deserve better than this."[19] The apology was accepted by the university and university president Donald Swain invited Brookshier to be the featured speaker at the school's annual football kickoff luncheon in Clarksville, Indiana on August 2, 1984.[20][21] Brookshier was reinstated in CBS's announcing lineup for the 1984 season, continuing as a network commentator through 1987.

Later life

In 1989, he hosted the morning show of the then-nascent 610 WIP sports format; the program was called Breakfast with Brookshier, before he was paired with Angelo Cataldi and the program re-dubbed Brookie and the Rookie, and then finally simply Brookshier and Cataldi.[22] He left broadcasting and was last known to be working as a consultant for real estate broker CB Richard Ellis.[23]

Brookshier died of cancer at Lankenau Medical Center on January 29, 2010.[24] The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted Brookshier into their Hall of Fame in 2007.


  1. ^ a b Plati, David (January 30, 2010). "Football, Broadcasting Legend Tom Brookshier Passes Away". University of Colorado Athletics. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  2. ^ "People". Sports Illustrated. April 27, 1970. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  3. ^ Green, Bob (November 6, 1961). "Tom Brookshier lost to the Eagles with a broken right leg". Lawrence Daily Journal-World. (Kansas). Associated Press. p. 9.
  4. ^ "Glen Amerson named to replace Brookshier". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. November 7, 1961. p. 16.
  5. ^ Maule, Tex (October 21, 1963). "Football's Hot Corner". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  6. ^ "Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles – November 5, 1961". Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  7. ^ Air Force Football, 2009, The Coaches p. 66
  8. ^ "Tom Brookshier quits football". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 13, 1963. p. 10.
  9. ^ "Ray Scott, 78, Voice of Packers During Glory Seasons in the 60's". The New York Times. March 29, 1998. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  10. ^ Leggett, William (January 23, 1978). "Insightful And Delightful". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  11. ^ Goldstein, Richard (January 31, 2010). "Tom Brookshier, Eagles Star and Broadcaster, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  12. ^ "CBS a Big Bore Until Game Began". 1980-01-21. Retrieved 2024-01-30.
  13. ^ "The inside story of how CBS picked John Madden's booth partner". January 18, 2022.
  14. ^ "No surprise in San Juan: Ali in the fifth". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. February 21, 1976. p. 3B.
  15. ^ Hagger, Jeff (20 October 2014). "Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier calling boxing in 1976". Classic TV Sports.
  16. ^ "History of #1 analyst demotions". Classic Sports TV and Media. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  17. ^ "TV SPORTS; DILEMMA FOR CBS OVER LOUISVILLE GAME". The New York Times. December 20, 1983. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  18. ^ "Sports briefs". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). December 14, 1983. p. 23.
  19. ^ "Sports people; Brookshier Penalized". The New York Times. December 14, 1983. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  20. ^ "Sports people; Louisville Gesture". The New York Times. July 12, 1984. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  21. ^ "Sports people; Brookshier's 'Penance'". The New York Times. August 3, 1984. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  22. ^ Ward, Frank (January 30, 2010). "Tom Brookshier a huge part of my sports world growing up". The Daily Philadelphian. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  23. ^ Gehman, Jim (November 19, 2005). "Where Are They Now: DB Tom Brookshier". Retrieved August 13, 2010.
  24. ^ Brookover, Bob (January 31, 2010). "Tom Brookshier, broadcaster and Eagles great, dies". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
Sporting positions Preceded byPat Summerall NFL on CBS lead game analyst 1974–1981 Succeeded byJohn Madden