New York Giants legend Frank Gifford died at his Connecticut home Sunday at the age of 84.
The former NFL MVP (1956) and famed football broadcaster passed away of natural causes, according to the Gifford family.
“It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford,” the family said in a statement released to NBC News. “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 was an eight-time Pro Bowler with the Giants and helped lead New York to the NFL Championship in 1956. He was forced to sit out 18 months after Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik blindsided him on a play in 1960. Gifford fractured two vertebrae on the play but returned in the 1962 season and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
“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.”
Gifford’s football career eventually took a backseat to his celebrity of being the husband of Kathie Lee Gifford, the daytime television host. Kathie Lee would often simply refer to the man 23 years her elder as “Frank” on “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” and “Today.”
Gifford was a TV star in his own right as he manned the broadcast booth for ABC’s “Monday Night Football” from 1971 to 1998.
Gifford and his wife stayed married through a very public incident in 1997 in which a tabloid newspaper paid a former flight attendant to seduce Gifford in a hotel room.