Born in extreme poverty, where his family resorted to eating dog food to survive the Great Depression--Frank Gifford worked his way to become an outstanding NFL player, and Emmy Award Winning broadcaster.
We celebrate the career of the former NFL flanker, as one of the most inspirational people of 2015, and his legacy. NFL Hall of Famer halfback and award-winning broadcaster Frank Gifford died in August 2015 from brain-related injuries sustained in his career. He was 84.
Concussion–related injuries can cause memory loss and dementia—this has been a hot topic regarding many athletes playing contact sports. The Gifford family released in a statement that they have found comfort.
“Knowing that by disclosing his condition we might contribute positively to the ongoing conversation that needs to be had--that he might be an inspiration for others suffering with this disease that needs to be addressed in the present; and that we might be a small part of the solution to an urgent problem concerning anyone involved with football, at any level."
Before becoming the first draft pick in 1952 for the New York Giants, Gifford achieved great success during his college career at the University of Southern California notching All-American honors.
Gifford’s career spanned over 12 seasons, had 3,609 rushing yards, and collected numerous awards, leading him to the Pro Bowl eight times. A severe head injury during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960 looked to end a successful career, but not for Gifford. He switched from halfback to flanker to regain his momentum after being sidelined for two seasons. Where did he look to for inspiration? He looked to a Hall of Famer.
"To me, Vince [Lombardi] was the difference between my becoming a good pro player and just another halfback. He turned my life around. Anything I accomplished in this game, I owe to him,” said the Monday Night Football host. It worked.
Gifford holds the record for 78 career touchdowns for the Giants. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. He went on to join Monday Night Football in the 1970s and worked for them 27 years with his famous gold jacket. During that time he met TODAY’s Kathie Lee on Good Morning America and the couple married. Gifford’s life was not always lucarative or so easy. He was born during the Great Depression—grew up in such poverty the family had to eat dog food, Kathie Lee said regarding her husband’s journey.
"People who think that he was born with this silver spoon in his mouth? He would say: 'We didn't have spoons.' But it made him so grateful. Honestly he's the most grateful human being I've ever, ever known, and that colored everything he did,” she shared on TODAY.
No matter what the obstacle, sin, or internal struggle, Gifford still relied on his faith and serving a living God who forgives.
"That remained with him for the rest of his life. He strayed from his faith on occasion but his faith never left him," she said. "His world got smaller as his God got bigger and he'd want you to know that, that he died in complete peace. He knew every sin he committed was forgiven."
Gifford died while waiting to go to church, Kathie Lee shared in her touching tribute.