Gifford was born in Santa Monica on August 16th, 1930 and is viewed as one of the best New York Giants players in the pre-Super Bowl era. He spent his entire NFL career with the Giants, playing for them between 1952 and 1964. Drafted with the 11th pick from the University of South Carolina in the 1952 draft, Gifford shined both offensively and defensively for the Giants as a halfback, earning his first Pro Bowl selection in his second season in the year.
Eventually, he became the centerpiece of the New York Giants’ team which won the NFL Championship in 1956, scoring a touchdown in the 47-7 win over the Chicago Bears in the Championship Game. Gifford was named the league’s Most Valuable Player that year.
This would be the only title he would win during his football career, but his exceptional performances would be rewarded with 8 Pro Bowl and 6 All Pro selectionsm; he was named Pro Bowl MVP in 1958. Gifford temporary retired in 1961 after an ugly head injury, but would return the next year on a totally new position as a wide-receiver – making the Pro Bowl in 1963 and demonstrating his extraordinary versatility.
Gifford retired for good in 1964, and received numerous awards for his outstanding career. He was named as first halfback in the NFL’s 1950s All-Decade Team released in 1969. His proficiency was ultimately recognized with his induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977; he was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and had his no.16 jersey retired by the New York Giants.
Even after his retirement, Gifford remained close to the sport he loved. He became an NFL commentator on CBS, but gained his breakthrough in 1971 as he was chosen as play-by-play announcement in ABC’s Monday Night Football. Forming a legendary announcing trio with Don Meredith and Howard Cossell, Gifford continued his commentating career until 1998, when he left the show.
Tributes for Gifford started to pour in immediately after the announcement from football personalities, ex-announcing colleagues and more. The Giants’ current president John Mara named Gifford as “the ultimate Giant”, while chairman Steve Tisch said that he considers him as the “Giants’ Giant”.
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