Photos of Frank Gifford through the years, via ESPN Images.
Longtime ABC Sports commentator and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Frank Gifford passed away today in Connecticut at the age of 84.
Gifford joined ABC’s NFL Monday Night Football for its second season in 1971 and remained part of the iconic series until 1998, calling more games in the MNF booth than any commentator (411). Working on Wide World of Sports, seven Olympics and five Super Bowls, he became one of sportscasting’s most enduring, successful and popular personalities.
“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,” said The Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bob Iger. “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. We are honored to call him a Disney Legend and I am very fortunate to have called him a dear friend and colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
Born on August 16, 1930, in Santa Monica, Calif., Gifford attended the University of Southern California where he played offensive and defensive back, earned All-American honors and was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
Chris Berman, who voiced this Gifford tribute, said: “Frank Gifford was a football and broadcasting icon in the truest sense of the word. His friendly, yet authoritative tone on any TV broadcast made us immediately pay attention while, at the same time, simply felt a part of the event. Frank was a Hall of Fame player, broadcaster, and person. Our deepest thoughts go out to his family.”
“I am terribly saddened by this sudden news,” said ESPN’s MNF voice Mike Tirico. “Frank Gifford was, is and always will be Mr. Monday Night Football. He brought a warmth and genuine nature, and a player’s perspective to the booth that few have or will ever match. He was so generous with all of us at ESPN as we became the stewards of Monday Night Football. I am thankful for the time that we got to visit with, be around and share the greatness of Frank. My thoughts and prayers to Kathie Lee and his family. We’ve lost a true Giant.”
“Frank Gifford was a wonderful man,” said ESPN MNF producer Jay Rothman. “It is such an honor to have met and worked with him. He voiced a series of vignettes that ran for a couple of years, starting with Monday Night Football’s 40th season. His voice still lives in our legacy open and that will continue this season. He is as much a part of the history of Monday Night Football as anyone who’s been on the show.”
“My dad and I used to watch Frank Gifford on Monday Night Football,” said MNF analyst Jon Gruden. “He saw Gifford play and always told me what a heck of a football player he was. Then Gifford went on to make Monday Night Football must-see TV as a broadcaster. He was talented, and he could work with anyone. This Hall of Fame weekend we honored some of the game’s best, but today is a tough day because we lost one of the all-time greats. He was a dear friend and we are going to miss him.”
The winner of two Sports Emmy Awards – Outstanding Sports Personality (1976) and the Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), Gifford covered the Summer Olympics in 1972, 1976 and 1984, the Winter Olympics of 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988, and Super Bowls I, IV, XIX, XXII and XXV. He also hosted ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
In 1995, Gifford became the only person to enter the Hall of Fame as both player and broadcaster when he was given the Pro Football Hall of Fame Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. Later, he was given the honor of presenting New York Giants owner Wellington Mara during his induction to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1997.
Bill Hofheimer contributed to this post