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Former football star Frank Gifford dead at 84

American football player, Frank Gifford attends the Collectors

American football player, Frank Gifford attends the Collectors Showcase of America at Raritan Center on June 11, 2011 in Edison, New Jersey. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bobby Bank

Giants Hall of Famer and icon of the franchise's glory days Frank Gifford died on Sunday at the age of 84. Gifford was known not only as an all-time great player but a broadcaster and part of the Monday Night Football crew from 1971-97.

His family released a statement announcing his 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."

In a golden age of New York sports, there were few athletes who gleamed brighter than Gifford. He was the Giants' equivalent to the Yankees' Mickey Mantle in terms of popularity and marketability.

Gifford played for the Giants from 1952-64 as a halfback and wide receiver. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls, named to six All-Pro teams, and a member of the 1956 NFL championship Giants. He was the NFL's Most Valuable Player that season.

"Frank Gifford was the ultimate Giant," Giants president John Mara said in a statement. "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."

He scored 34 rushing touchdowns and 43 receiving touchdowns in his career and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

Gifford was also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame (he played at USC) and had his number 16 retired by the Giants.

"Not only was Frank a member of the Giants family from the time he left USC, and will be forever, but because Frank, my father (Bob) and Pete Rozelle were so close in the '60s, I felt like he was a member of my family," Giants chairman Steve Tisch said in a statement. "I always loved seeing Frank on our sideline before our games. He had the handshake of a 25-year old, and he looked you right in the eye with his big blue eyes. He was such a strong person in every way. He will be missed and will always be remembered as a Giants' Giant."


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