Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford who played for the New York Giants before going on to a successful broadcasting career, died Sunday at his home in Connecticut. He was seven days away from turning 85. He is survived by, among others, his wife Kathie Lee Gifford, who is a host of NBC’s Today. Gifford’s family released a statement through NBC:
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.
Gifford was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1956 when the Giants won a league championship. He was seen as a star in both offense and defense but was the “centerpiece of a Giants offense that went to five NFL title games in the 1950s and ‘60s,” notes the Associated Press. Bloomberg recalls that Gay Talese wrote about Gifford in the New York Times, describing him in 1956 as “a blithely audacious athlete of 26 with a quality of mind that makes him an anomaly among football players.”
Gifford joined Monday Night Football in 1971, first as a play-by-play announcer and then as an analyst. He would stay on with the show for 27 years.