If you were going to follow John Facenda on the air, you had to have a great voice.
But Jeff Kaye brought it off. After Facenda died in 1984, Kaye became one of the voices of NFL Films, lending his own sonorous baritone to the pro-football documentary features of the Mount Laurel, N.J.-based company.
Maybe not quite God, but close to it.
"I can say to this day, when I look at some of the shows Jeff narrated over the years, I am still fascinated by the way he told a story," said Kevin McLoughlin, director of post-production for NFL Films.
"His voice, so smooth yet booming, was always a pleasure to listen to. He had some big shoes to fill after John Facenda passed away," McLoughlin said. "Jeff narrated hundreds of films for NFL Films over the years, from team highlights to 'Road to the Super Bowl.' One of the best voices of NFL Films."
Kaye died of cancer Nov. 16 at his home in Binghamton, N.Y. He was 75.
He was born Martin Krimski in Baltimore on Dec. 12, 1936. After serving as an Air Force meteorologist during the Korean War, he got his first broadcasting job in Providence, R.I.
In the early 1960s he worked at radio station WBZ in Boston before moving on to WKBW and WBEN radio stations in Buffalo, N.Y. In the mid-1980s Kaye moved to Philadelphia, where he did voice-overs for WPVI-TV and Philadelphia Phillies broadcasts and narrated TV commercials and NFL Films programs, which brought him national recognition.
At NFL Films, Kaye and the late Harry Kalas, the well-known Philadelphia Phillies announcer, shared most of the narrating duties after Facenda died.
Kaye almost lost his voice in 1996 when a cancerous tumor was found on his left vocal cord. However, the growth was successfully removed, and he returned to the air. He retired in 2006.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Suzanne; three daughters; a son; and seven grandchildren.