Hall of Fame Giants football star and longtime sportscaster Frank Gifford has died today. He was 84.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford died this morning at age 84. Gifford played 12 seasons for Giants. pic.twitter.com/OowTTumB1i
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 9, 2015
The family said in a statement on Facebook:
It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford. Frank died suddenly this beautiful Sunday morning of natural causes at his Connecticut home. We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers.
After being selected 11th overall in the first round of the 1952 draft, Gifford played his entire 12 season career for the Giants as defensive back, halfback and wide receiver. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and the league MVP in 1956, the year he led them to a championship (in the pre-Super Bowl era).
After he retired in 1964, Gifford transitioned to the broadcast booth, joining Howard Cossell and Don Meredith on “Monday Night Football” in 1971. He won an Emmy for his commentaries. As Variety put it:
Gifford’s name was practically synonymous with ESPN’s popular “Monday Night Football” telecast, for which he served up commentary from the early ’70s on. His first-hand experience on the field as a halfback and his measured, congenial analyses, made him a popular figure on the long-running, high-rated program. In later years Gifford became a constant source of late night talkshow host ribbing as the result of a tabloid-friendly report of an extramarital dalliance.
We lost a great friend, father, husband and legend. Most of all, a terrific human being. Frank Gifford, Kathie Lee's beloved passed this am
— Al Roker (@alroker) August 9, 2015
If not for Frank Gifford a lot of we ex jocks would not be in broadcasting today. He was one of the first to make that transition. Thx RIP
— Mike Shumann (@MikeShumann) August 9, 2015
Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch both released statements about Gifford (via Deadspin):
John Mara: “Frank Gifford was the ultimate Giant. He was the face of our franchise for so many years. More importantly, he was a treasured member of our family. My father loved him like a son and was proud to act as his presenter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a favor Frank returned years later by presenting my father in Canton. For my siblings and me, Frank was like a revered older brother whom we looked up to and admired. We loved him and will miss him terribly.”
Steve Tisch: “Not only was Frank a member of the Giants family from the time he left USC, and will be forever, but because Frank, my father (Bob) and Pete Rozelle were so close in the ‘60s, I felt like he was a member of my family. I always loved seeing Frank on our sideline before our games. He had the handshake of a 25-year old, and he looked you right in the eye with his big blue eyes. He was such a strong person in every way. He will be missed and will always be remembered as a Giants’ Giant.”
Gifford is survived by his wife, Today show host Kathie Lee Gifford; the couple's two adult children; and two sons and a daughter from his first marriage.