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rom the football field to the broadcast booth, Frank Gifford was a star. And a winner.

An NFL championship in 1956 with the New York Giants. An Emmy award in 1976-77 as television's "outstanding sports personality." Induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in '77.

 width=Gifford, as well known for serving as a buffer for fellow announcers Don Meredith and Howard Cosell on "Monday Night Football" as for his versatility as a player, died Sunday. He was 84.

In a statement released by NBC News, his family said Gifford died suddenly at his Connecticut home of natural causes Sunday morning. His wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, is a host for NBC's "Today."

A running back, defensive back, wide receiver and special teams player in his career, Gifford was the NFL's MVP in 1956. He went to the Pro Bowl at three positions and was the centerpiece of a Giants offense that went to five NFL title games in the 1950s and `60s.

Beginning in 1971, he worked for ABC's "Monday Night Football," at first as a play-by-play announcer and then as an analyst.

Later in life he stayed in the spotlight through his marriage to Kathie Lee Gifford, who famously called him a "human love machine" and "lamb-chop" to her millions of viewers.

Gifford hosted "Wide World of Sports," covered several Olympics - his call of Franz Klammer's downhill gold medal run in 1976 is considered a broadcasting masterpiece - and announced 588 consecutive NFL games for ABC, not even taking time off after the death of his mother shortly before a broadcast in 1986.

While he worked with others, including Dan Dierdorf, Al Michaels, Joe Namath and O.J. Simpson, Gifford was most known for the eight years he served as a calming influence between the folksy Meredith and acerbic Cosell.

In its early years the show was a cultural touchstone, with cities throwing parades for the visiting announcers and celebrities such as John Lennon and Ronald Reagan making appearances.

A straight-shooter who came off as earnest and sincere, Gifford was popular with viewers, though some accused him of being a shill for the NFL.

When he wasn't on the field, Gifford tried to put his movie-star good looks to use in Hollywood, appearing in about a dozen films, most notably the 1959 submarine movie "Up Periscope."

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