August 11, 2015
Frank Gifford passed away on August 9th at the age of 84. Frank Gifford is a football legend, Hall of Famer, acclaimed broadcaster and family man. Football fans under thirty might not remember him as a broadcaster. I never saw him play but was around to hear him deliver his astute analysis to the ground-breaking Monday Night Football broadcasts. I read about his legendary career him in my football books growing up.
Gifford grew up as son of an oil driller and traveled and moved around the country to wherever his father could find work. He was born in Southern California and returned to attend high school and junior college in Bakersfield then onto college at USC. He became an All-American at USC and was drafted in the first round by the New York Giants as a running back.
In 1952, his first year as a Giant, he played both offense and defense. He ended by playing thirteen seasons with the Giants in which eight of them he made All Pro. He also made five trips the NFL Championship Game and was named MVP in the 1956 season.
Gifford’s career was almost ended in 1960 when he received a massive concussion from a helmet to helmet collision. This injury caused him to retire in 1961. He decided to come back in 1960 but switched to flanker to avoid the head on type collisions. He called it career after the 1964 season.
Gifford went into broadcasting for CBS but eventually was recruited to join the staff at ABC for Monday Night Football. Gifford spent the next twenty-six years on the broadcast team for the Monday night game. Gifford also announced other sports such as Olympic basketball, skiing and golf. He even announced for jumps made by daredevil Evel Knievel. Gifford won awards for his broadcast work by both the NFL and the Emmys.
Gifford leaves behind his famous wife Kathie Lee Gifford, his son Cody and daughter Cassidy. He also had three children with his previous wife and a total of five grandchildren.
Frank Gifford played in National Football League when there was little pampering and less amenities. The padding was as insufficient, the training, the travel, the salaries and were all of lesser quality. Who knows how many concussions players endured and there certainly wasn’t any arthroscopic surgery techniques. I can’t believe that a lot of players back then played both sides of the ball, which tight fisted owners probably loved. Frank Gifford probably laughed at some of the shenanigans that modern players get away. He also made more money away from football than the thirteen seasons he played.
Salute Frank Gifford!