With ESPN kicking off its 2015 NFL preseason schedule tonight – the Buffalo Bills versus the Cleveland Browns (8 p.m. ET), today’s #TBT looks back five years when Monday Night Football’s Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski helped celebrate the 80th birthday of legendary Hall of Fame player and broadcaster Frank Gifford, who sadly passed away a week ago.
In 2010, the ESPN trio welcomed Gifford to the booth during the telecast of a New York Giants preseason game at MetLife Stadium, presenting him with a framed collage highlighting his 27 years in the MNF booth (see photo above).
Gifford, who would have turned 85 this week, was beloved by the ESPN crew. The Hall of Famer voiced a series of vignettes in 2009 in celebration of MNF’s 40th season. These pieces were so popular Gifford returned in 2010 to share another collection of MNF memories. Gifford’s voice has been part of the show open the past few seasons, and ESPN producer Jay Rothman has pledged that this will continue on MNF this fall – just one of the show’s planned tributes.
In celebration of Gifford’s life and longtime contributions to MNF, a decal of his No. 16 – the number he wore as a Giants player – will be placed on all of the MNF production trucks this season; Tirico and Gruden will also wear No. 16 lapel pins during games. At halftime of tonight’s MNF game, Tirico will present an essay on the life and career of Gifford, who helped grow the popularity of the NFL both as a player and as a broadcaster.