New York (AFP) - Frank Gifford, who helped the New York Giants to the 1956 NFL title and spent decades as an American football television commentator, died Sunday, his family said. He was 84.
Gifford died at his home in Connecticut of natural causes a week before his 85th birthday, the family statement said. He played for the Giants from 1952 through 1964 and was an eight-time selection to the Pro Bowl all-star game.
"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," the family said in a statement released to NBC News. "We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."
Gifford's wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, is a host on NBC's Today show. They were married in 1986.
"Deeply grateful to all 4 ur outpouring of grace," she posted on Twitter. "We r steadfast in our faith and finding comfort in knowing where Frank is."
Gifford made 367 catches for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns and ran for 3,609 yards and 34 touchdowns in his career. He was inducted into the American Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
After his playing career, Gifford moved into the television commentary booth, first with CBS and later on ABC's "Monday Night Football" from 1971 to 1997.
Bob Iger, chairman of ABC owner The Walt Disney Company, recalled Gifford as a man of quiet dignity.
"Frank Gifford was an exceptional man who will be missed by everyone who had the joy of seeing his talent on the field, the pleasure of watching his broadcasts, or the honor of knowing him," Iger said.
"His many achievements were defined by a quiet dignity and a personal grace that is seldom seen in any arena. He truly embodied the very best of us. Frank's contributions to ABC Sports and our company are immeasurable."