The Best Frank Gifford Moments Prove The NFL Great Was A Legend On & Off The Field
NFL legend and broadcaster Frank Gifford passed away on Sunday just a week shy of his 85th birthday. Gifford will be remembered not only for his enduring legacy as a stellar play-by-play announcer but his absolute dominance on the field as a multifaceted halfback and wide receiver. Frank Gifford's most famous moments are markers of his athletic prowess as well as far the sport of football has come thanks in large part to his efforts.
Gifford got his start in the NFL in 1952 and played his entire career with the New York Giants, though his position changed greatly thanks to the masterminding of legendary offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi. For that reason, Gifford consistently made the Pro Bowl eight different times under three different positions: as a defensive back, running back, and wide receiver. The only years he didn't make the Pro Bowl were during his rookie season and a three-year span following a devastating concussion in 1960. The New York Times called his injury "professional football's most notorious concussion" at the time and it's frequently cited as the first major case of a deep brain as well as spinal concussion that roiled the NFL. He was unable to play for over a year and a half.
His career prior to the concussion included record-setting seasons that cemented his dominance as one of the most scoring players in the league, having set the NFL record for most touchdowns thrown by a player other than a quarterback. The Giants' dominating 1958 season was enough to warrant a book about the team's championship game against the Baltimore Colts penned by Gifford. The highly competitive game marked the first championship game to go into sudden death overtime in the NFL. Gifford may have fumbled twice in the game but his foibles weren't the only ones. Five other fumbles occurred as well as a blown call and a game interruption from a drunkard. Gifford and his co-author argue that the game further changed the course of football, making it what it is today: a combination of entertainment, sports, and fanaticism.
His broadcasting career was marked with equally momentous events. Gifford was the first broadcaster to call the inaugural Cardinals game in Arizona in 1988, delivering an impressively informed and impassioned monologue about the Cardinals' facilities and the NFL's newest team. During his time as a play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Football, Gifford was a workhorse, calling hundreds of NFL games while also delving into other broadcasting pursuits. Gifford called the infamous 1972 Olympics Basketball final between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, in which an additional opportunity for the Soviet team turned the tide from a major comeback to a USSR victory.
Gifford's voice has lent itself to innumerable historic moments in sports and his athletic career has influenced the NFL as much as his commentary. For both efforts, he's been recognized by the NFL Hall of Fame as well as received numerous broadcasting awards in addition to being honored with a Sports Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.