Frank Gifford, who played 12 seasons for the New York Giants, dominating on both offense and defense, before becoming the voice of Monday Night Football, has died at age 84.
His family’s statement was vague about the cause of death:
It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford. Frank died suddenly this beautiful Sunday morning of natural causes at his Connecticut home. 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. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers.
Gifford’s career with the National Football League began in 1952. He shifted seamless among several positions—defensive back, running back, and wide receiver, most notably—exhibiting a rare range just as football players were beginning to specialize. He took the Giants to the NFL championship game five times and won it in 1956.
He briefly retired after a brutal tackle knocked him unconscious on the field and put him in the hospital for several days with a “deep brain concussion.” Head injuries like Gifford’s have recently been the focus of criticism against the NFL. He returned to football in 1962, playing two more seasons at wide receiver before retiring again for good in 1964.
Gifford’s second career arguably made him even more famous: He was a football commentator for CBS before ABC hired him to call plays for Monday Night Football, one of the most popular shows in American television. He served in various capacities on the program until 1997.
Gifford was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1986, he married Kathie Lee Gifford, the television host. They met on the set of ABC’s Good Morning America.