08/10/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
The 2015 NFL Hall of Fame ceremonies were a weekend of highs. Until Sunday morning, when it was announced that former NFL Hall of Fame player and broadcaster Frank Gifford passed away at the age of 84.
Gifford was the definition of durability both on and off the field. He played both offense and defense over his 13 year career with the New York Giants. Gifford made the Pro Bowl as a running back, wide receiver, and defensive back. The accolades on the field were with Gifford before he made his NFL debut, as he was an All American at USC in college.
He was selected by the Giants with the 11th overall pick in 1952. He started his NFL career playing on both sides of the ball. Gifford helped to lead the Giants to 5 NFL Championship games and to a title win in 1956, when he was named as the league's MVP. Gifford would make 8 Pro Bowl appearances in his esteemed career. 7 of those Pro Bowls came in the 1950's, when he was named to the NFL's all decade team.
The biggest accomplishment for Gifford as a player though may not be what he did on the field, but what he came back from. In 1961, Gifford was severely injured in a game against Philadelphia. He was injured bad enough that he actually retired from football. But he returned in 1962 when he was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, and would make his final Pro Bowl appearance in 1963.
For the past few generations of professional football fans though, Gifford is best known for his work in the broadcast booth. In 1971, Gifford joined Howard Cossell and Don Meredith on Monday Night Football. Gifford would remain a broadcaster on MNF until 1997. Not only was the fact he was on the NFL's biggest TV broadcast for parts of 3 decades impressive, but Gifford was a trail blazer in the fact that he was the first ex player to really become a star behind the microphone as well. He won a Emmy Award in 1977 and was given the Pete Rozelle Hall of Fame award in 1995 for his work on television for the NFL. He also had various acting roles both prior to and after his NFL playing career.
Gifford died at the age of 84 of natural causes at his home in Connecticut. Gifford was both unique and versatile, both on the field and off. He was involved in the NFL as a player or broadcaster for 5 decades, opened the door for other former athletes into becoming television announcers, and left a legacy behind that will never be forgotten by NFL fans both past and present.
Rest in peace Frank Gifford, you will definitely be missed.
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