Frank Gifford, former New York Giants legend and longtime Monday Night Football broadcaster, died Sunday morning due to natural causes. He was 84. Gifford is survived by his wife, TODAY show host Kathie Lee Gifford, and five children.
In a statement, Gifford's family said, "It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford."
Gifford was a first-round draft pick for the Giants in 1952 and played multiple positions in his 12-year career, including defensive back, running back and wide receiver. The eight-time Pro Bowler was named the league's MVP in 1956, when he helped lead the Giants to a championship. He scored 78 total touchdowns in his career, which still ranks as the most for any Giants player.
"Frank Gifford was the ultimate Giant. He was the face of our franchise for so many years. More importantly, he was a treasured member of our family," Giants president John Mara said in a statement. "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 took the 1961 season off after Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik knocked him unconscious in a game the year before. He returned to the field in 1962, eventually retiring in 1964. In 1977, Gifford was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also a Hall of Famer, Bednarik died earlier this year in March at age 89.
In 1971, Gifford joined the Monday Night Football booth and was a mainstay on the program until his final season in 1997.
The full statement from the Gifford family was released to NBC News, via Sports Business Journal's John Ourand.
"It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford. 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."