Pro Football Hall of Famer and sportscaster Frank Gifford died from natural causes at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut yesterday, Sunday, August 9th. He was 84 years old.
Gifford was an All-American at USC, where he played both offense and defense. In 1952 he was a first-round draft pick for the New York Giants, and in 1956, he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and helped bring the team a league championship. In a 1960 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Gifford was knocked out by Chuck Bednarik on a passing play; The resulting “deep brain concussion” led Gifford to retire from football in 1961. During this time, Gifford dabbled in broadcasting on sports radio as well as scouting for the Giants. Eighteen months later, Gifford returned to the Giants, changing positions from running back to flanker, a position now known as wide receiver. Despite almost two years away from the game and having to learn a new position, Gifford’s second run with the Giants was also successful. Gifford played a total of 12 seasons with the New York Giants and ties Walter Payton for the most interceptions thrown by a non-quarterback in NFL history.
Frank Gifford was known as being a very versatile player, and was selected for the Pro Bowl eight times as a defensive back, an offensive halfback, and as a flanker. In 1977, Gifford was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After retiring from the game, Gifford became a commentator, perhaps becoming best known as a broadcaster on ABC’s Monday Night Football from 1971 until 1997, when he resigned in the wake of a sex scandal. Gifford was known for his low-key persona, playing against the more boisterous Howard Cosell and Don Meredith.
Gifford received two Emmys in his lifetime; in 1977 he was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. In addition to his work on Monday Night Football, Gifford appeared on ABC’s Wild World of Sports as well as taking part in the network’s Olympics coverage. The former football star also spent some time on scripted television, appearing as himself on the sitcom Hazel as well as episodes of Coach, Spin City, and The Six Million Dollar Man.
Gifford is survived by his wife Kathie Lee Gifford, their son Cody and daughter Cassidy, and his sons Jeff and Kyle and daughter Victoria from his first marriage.