The ultimate Giant: Memories of Frank Gifford

Five days before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I saw my first NFL game. On a cool Sunday afternoon in 1963, the Giants rolled over the visiting 49ers 48-14 at Yankee Stadium.

Frank Gifford caught a pair of touchdown passes that day, a 10-yarder from Y.A. Tittle and later a 30-yarder from New York’s back-up quarterback Glynn Griffing. Later that year, Gifford scored the Giants’ only touchdown in a 14-10 loss to the Bears in the NFL championship game at Wrigley Field.

A year later, Gifford retired. He lived the life of “the ultimate Giant.” And of course Gifford would go on to make a huge imprint on pro football, broadcasting Monday Night Football games on ABC for nearly 30 years.

Gifford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 84, still ranks first all-time in Giants touchdowns with 78, second in receiving yards and eighth in rushing yardage.

“Frank Gifford was the ultimate Giant,” said Giants co-owner John Mara. “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.”

For a kid growing up in Westchester County, a kid who went to Iona Prep, the same high school as John Mara, Frank Gifford was the epitome of cool. Giants cool. Lawrence Taylor was the greatest Giant, but for half of century Gifford was the face of the franchise. To be called a “legend: by Joe Namath is quite a tribute.

I’ll always cherish that Frank Gifford autograph and the words of encouragement I received at a Communion breakfast in White Plains when I was 12 years old. #16, gone but not forgotten.

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2 Comments on “The ultimate Giant: Memories of Frank Gifford”

  1. Never had the privilege of seeing him play. Nevertheless, he was an awesome personality who really connected the NFL with Main Street, USA.


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