Francis Newton Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015) was an American football player, actor, and television sports commentator. After a 12-year playing career as a halfback and flanker for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL), he was a play-by-play announcer and commentator for 27 years on ABC's Monday Night Football.
Gifford won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award from United Press International in 1956, the same season his team won the NFL Championship. During his career, he participated in five league championship games and was named to eight Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. After retiring as a player, Gifford was an Emmy Award-winning sportscaster, known for his work on ABC's Monday Night Football, Wide World of Sports and the Olympics. He was married to television host Kathie Lee Gifford from 1986 until his death.
|Position:||Halfback, wide receiver|
|Born:||August 16, 1930|
Santa Monica, California
|Died:||August 9, 2015 (aged 84)|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||193 lb (88 kg)|
|High school:||Bakersfield (CA)|
|NFL Draft:||1952 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Gifford was born in Santa Monica, California, the son of Lola Mae (née Hawkins) and Weldon Gifford, an oil driller. He graduated from Kern County Union High School, now named Bakersfield High School. Following Gifford's death in 2015, his wife Kathie Lee Gifford said that her late husband grew up in a poverty-stricken home and that he and his family sometimes ate dog food. She said they lived in 29 places even before Gifford attended high school because his father could not find work during the Depression. She also said that as a young child, the family attended church every week and Gifford "asked Jesus into his heart and that remained with him for the rest of his life".
Gifford was unable to gain an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC) because of his low grade point average in high school, so he played a season of football for Bakersfield Junior College. While at Bakersfield, he made the Junior College All-America team and earned the grades needed to enroll at USC. At USC, Gifford was named an All-American after rushing for 841 yards on 195 carries during his final season. He graduated from USC in 1952.
Gifford spent his entire NFL career with the New York Giants, beginning in 1952, playing both offense and defense. He made eight Pro Bowl appearances and had five trips to the NFL Championship Game. Gifford's best season may have been 1956, when he won the league's Most Valuable Player Award and led the Giants to the NFL title over the Chicago Bears.
He lost 18 months in the prime of his career when he was injured by a hard tackle. During a 1960 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he was knocked out by Chuck Bednarik on a passing play, suffering a severe head injury that led him to retire from football in 1961. However, Gifford returned to the Giants in 1962, changing positions from running back to flanker (now a type of "wide receiver").
During his 12 seasons with the Giants (136 regular season games) Gifford had 3,609 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in 840 carries; he also had 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns. Gifford completed 29 of the 63 passes he threw for 823 yards and 14 touchdowns with 6 interceptions. The 14 touchdowns is the most among any non-quarterback in NFL history; the 6 interceptions is tied with Walter Payton for most thrown by a non-quarterback.
After his death, an autopsy on his brain revealed that he lived with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disease closely related to repeated head trauma. As of September 18, 2015, 87 out of 91 former NFL players tested had been diagnosed with the disease.
After his playing days ended, Gifford became a broadcaster for CBS, covering football, golf and basketball. When Monday Night Football was launched in 1970, ABC had originally planned to have Gifford in their broadcast booth, but he still had a year remaining on his contract with CBS. He therefore recommended his friend Don Meredith, who was hired. The following year, Gifford replaced Keith Jackson as Monday Night Football's play-by-play announcer, and remained involved with the show for 27 of its next 28 years. His low-key delivery provided a perfect counterbalance to broadcast partners Meredith and Howard Cosell. In an era with only three television broadcast networks, the series became the longest-running prime-time sports program in television history, and developed into one of television's most valuable franchises. In 1986, Al Michaels took over play-by-play duties, and Gifford switched to a commentator role. However, Gifford did play-by-play for the next several years (Gifford was joined by Lynn Swann on color commentary in 1986 and by Dan Dierdorf for the rest of his run on Monday Night Football) whenever Michaels was covering post-season baseball games for the network.
Following his affair with airline flight attendant Suzen Johnson in 1997, Gifford was replaced in the broadcast booth by Boomer Esiason in 1998. That season, he was reassigned to a nominal role for ABC's Monday night pregame show, but the program was cancelled after one season. Gifford was not offered a new role by the network. Gifford was also host of British TV network Channel 4's NFL coverage with British born former New England Patriots kicker John Smith in 1986, which included coverage of Super Bowl XXI.
Gifford was also a reporter and commentator on other ABC sports programs, such as coverage of the Olympics (including the controversial men's basketball Gold Medal game between the United States and Soviet Union at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, which Gifford called alongside Bill Russell), skiing and golf. He announced Evel Knievel's jumps for ABC's Wide World of Sports in the 1970s, including when Knievel failed to clear 13 buses at Wembley Stadium in 1975. Gifford also guest hosted Good Morning America on occasion, including once when he met his future wife Kathie Lee.
In 1977, Gifford won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality. He was given the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award by the Pro Football Hall of Fame In 1995 for his NFL television work.
Gifford appeared as himself as a guest star on the NBC television series, Hazel, in the episode, "Hazel and the Halfback", which originally aired December 26, 1963. In the story, Gifford is interested in investing in a local bowling alley. In 1977, Gifford appeared as himself in the episode "The Shortest Yard" of the ABC sitcom The San Pedro Beach Bums. He also appeared as himself in a two-hour episode of the Six Million Dollar Man titled "The Bionic Boy" in the same year. In 1994 Gifford also appeared as himself in the Nickelodeon kids show called The Adventures of Pete & Pete as a customer for the boys Dad's driving range. In season one episode 4 titled ("Rangeboy") Gifford and his wife Kathie Lee appeared in the February 28, 1995, episode of the ABC sitcom Coach, titled "The Day I Met Frank Gifford", in which a character on the show plots to meet the former football star who will attend an event to receive an award.
Gifford also had an acting role in TV commercials.
Gifford married his college sweetheart, USC's homecoming queen Maxine Avis Ewart, on January 13, 1952, after she became pregnant while they were students at USC. They had three children, Jeff (b. 1952), Kyle and Victoria, and five grandchildren. Victoria married Michael LeMoyne Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy. Gifford was then married to fitness trainer Astrid Lindley from 1978 to 1986. The first two marriages ended in divorce. Gifford married television presenter and singer Kathie Lee Johnson, who was 23 years his junior, on October 18, 1986. The couple settled in Greenwich, Connecticut, with their son, Cody Newton Gifford, and daughter, Cassidy Erin Gifford. Gifford and his third wife Kathie Lee both shared the same birthday, which was August 16. The couple co-hosted ABC's coverage of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
Gifford had an older sister and younger brother, Winona and Waine.
In 1997, the tabloid magazine Globe arranged to have Gifford secretly videotaped being seduced by former flight attendant Suzen Johnson in a New York City hotel room. They published photos and stories. ESPN reported that the tabloid paid Johnson $75,000 to lure Gifford to the room, while The Atlantic said it was $125,000. National Enquirer Editor Steve Coz observed, "There's a difference between reporting the news and creating the news ... [w]ithout The Globe, there would be no story here. I'm in the tabloid industry, and this is way over the top. It's downright cruel."
In November 2015, Gifford's family revealed that he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The family said, "After losing our beloved husband and father, Frank Gifford, we as a family made the difficult decision to have his brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury ... We decided to disclose our loved one's condition to honor Frank's legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s."
Gifford is a character in Frederick Exley's novel A Fan's Notes. In the novel, Gifford becomes the narrator's hero while both are at USC. Subsequently, the narrator continues to be an intense fan of Gifford and his team, the New York Giants, during his NFL career.
|1953||All American||Stan Pomeroy|
|1959||Up Periscope||Ensign Cy Mount|
|2002||Three Days of Rain||Extra|
|1956||What's My Line?||Himself|
|1962||Captain Kangaroo||Himself||Episode: "October 6, 1962" (S 8:Ep 30)|
|1963||Our Man Higgins||Guest||Episode: "Delinquent for a Day" (S 1:Ep 30)|
|Hazel||Himself||Episode: "Hazel and the Halfback" (S 3:Ep 15)|
|1964||What's My Line?||Guest||Episode: "EPISODE #732" (S 16:Ep 4)|
|The Reporter||Himself||Episode: "How Much For A Prince" (S 1:Ep 3)|
|1971–97||Monday Night Football||Play by Play Announcer||Main|
|1975||The Way It Was||Panelist||Episode: "1958 NFL Championship" (S 1:Ep 1)|
|$10,000 Pyramid||Himself||Episode: "Kate Jackson & Frank Gifford" (S 3: Ep 36–40)|
|Episode: "Sandy Duncan & Frank Gifford" (S 4:Ep 12–16)|
|1976||The Six Million Dollar Man||Himself||Episode: "The Bionic Boy, part 1" (S 4:Ep 8)|
|1977||The San Pedro Beach Bums||Himself||Episode: "The Shortest Yard" (S 1:Ep 2)|
|1981||The Primetime Emmy Awards||Himself||Episode: "The 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards" (S 33:Ep 1)|
|1984||Webster||Himself||Episode: "You Can't Go Home Again" (S 2:Ep 7)|
|1993||The Adventures of Pete & Pete||Himself||Episode: "Range Boy" (S 1:Ep 4)|
|1995||Coach||Himself||Episode: "The Day I Met Frank Gifford" (S 7:Ep 20)|
|1996||Coach||Himself||Episode: "You Win Some, You Lose Some" (S 9:Ep 8)|
|1997||Spin City||Himself||Episode: "An Affair to Remember" (S 1:Ep 17)|
|1999||Biography||Himself||Episode: "Kathie Lee Gifford: Having it All" (S 2:Ep 33)|
|2000–05||SportsCentury||ABC Sports Reporter||Recurring|
|2004||ESPN25: Who's#1?||Interviewee||Episode: "Most Outrageous Characters" (S 1:Ep 5)|
|2008||Celebrity Family Feud||Himself||Episode: "Episode 106" (S 1:Ep 2)|
|TMZ on TV||Himself||Episode: "Episode #2.029" (S 2:Ep 29)|
|Center Stage||Guest||Episode: "Frank Gifford" (S 4:Ep 6)|
Analysts for game in viewing area
| The NFL Today host
| Monday Night Football play-by-play man
Joe Namath and O. J. Simpson
| Monday Night Football color commentator
1986 (sole commentator), 1987–1997 (with Dan Dierdorf)
Dan Dierdorf and Boomer Esiason
| Super Bowl television play-by-play announcer (non-cable prime-time package carrier)
| ABC's Wide World of Sports host (with Becky Dixon from 1987–1988)
In the 1956 National Football League Championship Game was the league's 24th championship game, played at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx in New York City on December 30.The New York Giants (8–3–1) won the Eastern Conference title and hosted the Chicago Bears (9–2–1), the Western Conference champions. The teams had met in the regular season five weeks earlier on November 25 at Yankee Stadium and played to a 17–17 tie; the Bears entered the championship game in late December as slight favorites. The Giants hosted because the home field for the title game alternated between the conferences; home field advantage was not implemented until 1975.
Both teams had been absent from the league title game for a decade, when the Bears won the championship over the Giants at the Polo Grounds in 1946. The Giants' most recent NFL title was before World War II, in 1938. The 1956 season marked the Giants' first at Yankee Stadium, moving across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds. This was the first championship since 1949 without the Cleveland Browns, who had appeared in six consecutive since joining the NFL in 1950.
The 1956 Giants featured a number of Hall of Fame players, including running backs Frank Gifford and Alex Webster, offensive tackle Roosevelt Brown, linebacker Sam Huff, and defensive end Andy Robustelli. Two assistants of Giants head coach Jim Lee Howell, offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi and defensive coordinator Tom Landry, later became Hall of Fame head coaches with other franchises; Lombardi coached the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships during the 1960s and Landry led the Dallas Cowboys to five Super Bowls, with two wins, during the 1970s. He was the head coach of the Cowboys for 29 seasons, through 1988.1956 NFL season
The 1956 NFL season was the 37th regular season of the National Football League.
With previous television partner DuMont Television Network ending operations prior to the 1956 season, CBS began carrying regular season games across its network nationwide.
The season ended when the New York Giants crushed the Chicago Bears in the NFL Championship Game, 47–7.1959 Pro Bowl
The 1959 Pro Bowl was the NFL's ninth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1958 season. The game was played on January 11, 1959, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in front of 72,250 fans. The final score was East 28, West 21.The West team was led by the Baltimore Colts' Weeb Ewbank while Jim Lee Howell of the New York Giants coached the East squad. New York Giants quarterback Frank Gifford was selected as the outstanding back of the game and defensive lineman Doug Atkins of the Chicago Bears was named the outstanding lineman.Becky Dixon
Rebecca "Becky" Dixon (born April 14, 1951) is an American television broadcaster. She is best known as the co-host of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, alongside Frank Gifford, from 1987 to 1988. Dixon is currently the president and owner of AyerPlay Productions in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has also served as a news and sports anchor for KTUL-TV and host of the Oklahomans program which profiled celebrated Oklahomans.Cassidy Gifford
Cassidy Erin Gifford (born August 2, 1993) is an American actress. She is the daughter of former American football player Frank Gifford and American television host Kathie Lee Gifford.
In 2015, she was chosen as one of Esquire magazine's "18 Beautiful Women America Won't Be Able to Resist This Summer."Frank Tallman
Frank Gifford Tallman III (April 17, 1919 in East Orange, New Jersey – April 15, 1978 in Santiago Peak, Trabuco Canyon, California) was a stunt pilot who worked in Hollywood during the 1960s and 1970s.
He was the son of Frank Gifford Tallman, Jr. (1894 – 1952) and Inez Evelyn Foster (1894 – 1982).Jim Lee Howell
James Lee Howell (September 27, 1914 – January 4, 1995) was an American football player and coach for the National Football League's New York Giants. Howell was born in Arkansas and played college football and basketball at the University of Arkansas. He was drafted by the Giants in the 1937 NFL Draft and played wide receiver and defensive back from 1937 to 1947. While playing for the Giants, He was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives representing Lonoke County in 1940 and served one term during the January to March 1941 session of the legislature. After his playing career ended, he was head coach for Wagner College football.
Howell returned to the Giants in 1954 as head coach, succeeding fan, media and player favorite Steve Owen. Howell quickly hired Vince Lombardi as his offensive coordinator and shortly after converted Tom Landry from player to defensive coordinator. From 1954 to 1960, the Giants played in three NFL Championship Games, defeating George Halas’s Chicago Bears in 1956 by the score of 47–7.
During Howell's seven seasons as head coach, he earned a career 53–27–4 record, with a .663 winning percentage. He drafted and coached a roster of stars including six future Pro Football Hall of Famers, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Rosey Brown, Emlen Tunnell, Frank Gifford and Don Maynard. Although his conservative, defense-oriented style was unpopular with the fans and media, the Giants' success on the field was more satisfying. Several other players from this era went on to become head coaches and broadcasters.
Howell played and coached in an era when football went from a relatively simple game to one of great complexity with schemes, formations and playbooks designed to deceive as much as over power. With future Hall of Famers Lombardi and Landry as coordinators, Howell's job was frequently to play the diplomat within his own team.
Howell stayed with the team as Director of Player Personnel until his retirement in 1981. He died on January 4, 1995 in Lonoke, Arkansas.
The Professional Football Researchers Association named Howell to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2007Kathie Lee Gifford
Kathryn Lee Gifford (née Epstein; born August 16, 1953) is an American television host, singer, songwriter, and author. She is the co-host, with Hoda Kotb, of the fourth hour of NBC's Today. She is best known for her 15-year run (1985–2000) on the talk show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, which she co-hosted with Regis Philbin. She has received 11 Daytime Emmy nominations and won her first Daytime Emmy in 2010 as part of the Today team. Gifford's first television role had been as Tom Kennedy's singer/sidekick on the syndicated version of Name That Tune, from 1974 to 1978. She also occasionally appears on the first three hours of Today and is a contributing NBC News correspondent.
Kathie Lee married Paul Johnson, a Christian composer/arranger/producer/publisher in 1976. After their divorce in 1982, she married sportscaster and former NFL player Frank Gifford in 1986. He died in 2015. Kathie Lee has released studio albums and written books.List of American Bowl broadcasters
The following is a list of the television networks and announcers to have broadcast the American Bowl, which was a series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States between 1986 and 2005. Out of the list, ESPN hosted the America Bowl the largest number of times, with NBC coming second.List of Monday Night Football commentators
The following is a list of sportscasters who have served as commentators for Monday Night Football broadcasts on various networks, along with each commentator's period of tenure on the show (beginning years of each season shown, as the NFL season ends in the calendar year after it begins). Game announcers used in #2 games usually come from ESPN and are included for both wild card playoff games (1995–2005 except 2002–2003 season) and secondary regular season games (1987, 1997, 2005–present).List of NFL Championship Game broadcasters
The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the National Football League Championship Game from the 1940s until the 1969 NFL season (after which the NFL merged with the American Football League). The National Football League first held a championship game in 1933, it took until 1948 before a championship game would be televised. The successor to the NFL Championship Game is the NFC Championship Game.List of Playoff Bowl broadcasters
The Playoff Bowl (officially, the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl) was a post-season game for third place in the NFL, played ten times following the 1960-69 seasons. It was abandoned in favor of the current playoff structure with the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the Playoff Bowl during its existence.List of Pro Bowl broadcasters
The following is a list of the television networks and announcers who have broadcast the National Football League's Pro Bowl throughout the years.List of Sugar Bowl broadcasters
Television network, play-by-play and color commentator(s) for the Sugar Bowl from 1953 to the present.List of Super Bowl broadcasters
The following is a list of Super Bowl broadcasters, that is, all of the national American television and radio networks and sports announcers that have broadcast the first four AFL-NFL World Championship Games and thereafter the championship games of the National Football League. It does not include any announcers who may have appeared on local radio broadcasts produced by the participating teams.
Originally alternated between the AFL's broadcaster (then NBC) and the NFL's broadcaster (then CBS), the game is now alternated between the three main broadcast television rightsholders of the NFL—CBS, Fox and NBC. CBS has televised the most Super Bowl games, with Super Bowl LIII as its 20th.
NBC originally had broadcasting rights for the Super Bowl XXVI and CBS for the XXVII, but the NFL allowed the networks to switch the two games in order to allow CBS a significant lead-in to its coverage of the 1992 Winter Olympics. Likewise, NBC was to air the Super Bowl LV and CBS for the LVI, but they agreed to swap the broadcasting rights, therefore CBS will benefit from holding rights to the Super Bowl and the 2021 NCAA Final Four, whereas NBC will be abled to pair its Super Bowl coverage with the 2022 Winter Olympics.Sal Marchiano
Salvatore Joseph "Sal" Marchiano (born March 3, 1941) is a former American sportscaster who worked in New York radio and television for forty four years. In December 2008 he retired from his position as sports director and anchor for the WPIX Channel 11 News At Ten.
A graduate of Fordham University, Marchiano began his sportscasting career in 1964, with the audio operation of United Press International and in local radio, mentored by famed New York sportscaster Marty Glickman.Marchiano later worked at CBS News, WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, ESPN, ABC Sports, ABC Radio Network, WABC-TV, WNEW-FM radio and the Mutual Radio Network. His TV debut as sports anchor and reporter for Frank Gifford was at WCBS in 1967, working alongside Jim Jensen, Robert Trout and Reed Collins. Starting in 1971, at WABC-TV, he anchored and reported alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford as well as Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel. In 1980, he was an original cast member at ESPN anchoring Sportscenter, hosting the weekly Sports Forum and doing the blow-by-blow of the weekly Top Rank Boxing telecasts. In 1984, he joined WNBC-TV and teamed with Chuck Scarborough, Sue Simmons, Gabe Pressman, Marv Albert and Len Berman. Sal moved to WPIX TV in 1994 as sports anchor next to Jack Cafferty and Kaity Tong, for the last fourteen years of his more than four decades broadcasting career.Marchiano covered major events such as the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA playoffs, Stanley Cup playoffs and championship fights. Marchiano hosted ABC's Wide World of Sports live from the Philippines before THE THRILLA IN MANILA. He interviewed the leading sports personalities of his era including Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath, Pete Rozelle, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Billie Jean King. Among his non-sports interviewees were Gene Autrey, Federico Fellini, Paul Newman and Frank Sinatra. Sal was awarded two Emmys for broadcasting excellence. His memoir is IN MY REAR VIEW MIRROR. Marchiano's daughter Sam Marchiano, a graduate of Columbia University, has been a sportscaster since the mid 1990s with Fox Sports and Major League Baseball.com. She is a documentarian and social activist.Suzen Johnson
Suzen Johnson (born February 1951) is a former flight attendant, businesswoman and model. She had an affair with sports reporter Frank Gifford in April and May 1997. The two were photographed together, bringing embarrassment to Gifford and his wife, Kathie Lee.The Last Flight (The Twilight Zone)
"The Last Flight" is episode 18 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. Part of the production was filmed on location at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, California. The vintage 1918 Nieuport 28 biplane was both owned and flown by Frank Gifford Tallman, and had previously appeared in many World War I motion pictures.
|Wide receivers /|
Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.
|Host or Commentator|
|Host or Play–by–Play|
|Former key figures|