Monday Night Football
Frank Gifford is a former American football player and one of the better-recognized American sports commentators in the second part of the 20th century who made the alteration from an athlete to broadcasting. During his professional football career with the New York Giants from 1952 to 1964, Gifford collected 9,753 combined yards and his 5,434 yards receiving and 78 touchdowns are still Giants records. He also threw for 14 touchdowns as a master of the option pass from his halfback spot. Gifford won the Most Valuable Player award of the NFL in 1956 and was named to the Pro Bowl at three different positions in 1964. In 1977, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After his NFL career ended, Gifford is known to TV audiences as a sports commentator, most notably as play-by-play announcer on the ABC “Monday Night Football” (1971-1998), replacing Keith Jackson. For his NFL TV work, he was awarded the 1995 Pete Rozelle Award by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As for his personal life, 6-foot-1-inch Gifford has been married three times. After separating from first wife Maxine Ewart, who becomes the mother of his three children, he married Astrid Lindley, but divorced after eight years, and in 1986, he found his new love, current wife Kathie Lee Gifford. Together, they have two children, Cody Newton (born 1990) and Cassidy Erin (born 1993). Gifford’s romantic life has also been linked to airline stewardess Suzen Johnson. The two had a highly-published affair in 1997.
Father of 5
Childhood and Family:
In Santa Monica, California, Francis Newton Gifford, who would later be popular as Frank Gifford, was born on August 16, 1930. He graduated from Bakersfield High School and the University of Southern California (USC). Frank has an older sister named Frances Gifford, who is an actress.
Frank married Maxine Ewart on January 13, 1952, with whom he has three children, but they later divorced. He then was married to Astrid Lindley for eight years, from 1978 to 1986. Frank tied the knot with present wife Kathie Lee Gifford, an ex-television talk show host and singer, on October 18, 1986. Their first child, son Cody Newton Gifford, was born on March 22, 1990, followed by their second child, Cassidy Erin Gifford, who was born on August 2, 1993.
On and Off Field
Frank Gifford became involved in football since high school, and played a season for Bakersfield College after graduating, while improving his grades to attend USC. At Bakersfield College, he made the Junior College All-American team. Gifford continued to play the sport at USC, where he played both defense and offence and won All-American honors as a senior. It was also at USC that he started his professional career on NFL by joining the New York Giants in 1952.
As both offense and defense player, Gifford’s career led him to eight Pro Bowl performances and five outings to the NFL Championship Game, the precursor of the Super Bowl. He reached the zenith of his fame in 1956, when he was handed the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, and led the Giants to the NFL title over the Chicago Bears. A severe head injury in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960, however, forced Gifford to retire from football. Undaunted, he returned to the game he loved two years later, changing positions from running back to wide receiver (then known as flanker). Despite having to regain his touch after a long layoff and learn a new position, he gained star status once again. He was labeled to the Pro Bowl at three different positions, first as a defensive back, then as a running back, and last as a wide receiver. In 1964, he finally retired, and was officially inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 30, 1977.
During 12-season tenure with the New York Giants, Gifford had 3,609 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in 840 carries. He also had 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns. He completed 29 of the 63 passes he threw for 823 yards and 14 touchdowns.
After his playing day ended, Gifford tried his luck of becoming a football analyst, mostly for NFL games on CBS. He got his big break in 1971, when he replaced Keith Jackson as play-by-play announcer on the ABC “Monday Night Football,” teaming up with Don Meredith and Howard Cosell. The straight man of the group, Gifford remained with the show until 1998, working more than 600 consecutive games through diverse changes in partners. Gifford also served as a commentator and reporter on other ABC programs, like their coverage of the Olympic Games and skiing, and has guest hosted “Good Morning America” on occurrence. The Pro Football Hall of Fame honored Gifford a 1995 Pete Rozelle for his NFL television work.