Football Star and Announcer Frank Gifford Dead At 84
From the football field to the broadcast booth, Frank Gifford was a star. And a winner.
An NFL championship in 1956 with the New York Giants. An Emmy award in 1976-77 as television's "outstanding sports personality." Induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in '77.
Gifford, as well known for serving as a buffer for fellow announcers Don Meredith and Howard Cosell on "Monday Night Football" as for his versatility as a player, died Sunday. He was 84.
"Frank Gifford was an icon of the game, both as a Hall of Fame player for the Giants and Hall of Fame broadcaster for CBS and ABC," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Frank's talent and charisma on the field and on the air were important elements in the growth and popularity of the modern NFL."
In a statement released by NBC News, his family said Gifford died suddenly at his Connecticut home of natural causes Sunday morning. His wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, is a host for NBC's "Today."
"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," his family said in the statement. "We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."
A running back, defensive back, wide receiver and special teams player in his career, Gifford was the NFL's MVP in 1956. He went to the Pro Bowl at three positions and was the centerpiece of a Giants offense that went to five NFL title games in the 1950s and `60s.
Beginning in 1971, he worked for ABC's "Monday Night Football," at first as a play-by-play announcer and then as an analyst.
Later in life he stayed in the spotlight through his marriage to Kathie Lee Gifford, who famously called him a "human love machine" and "lamb-chop" to her millions of viewers.
"He was a great friend to everyone in the league, a special adviser to NFL commissioners, and served NFL fans with enormous distinction for so many decades," Goodell added.
Gifford hosted "Wide World of Sports," covered several Olympics - his call of Franz Klammer's downhill gold medal run in 1976 is considered a broadcasting masterpiece - and announced 588 consecutive NFL games for ABC, not even taking time off after the death of his mother shortly before a broadcast in 1986. (Associated Press)