Frank Gifford Played Football?!?!?!
Growing up, I became a New York Giants fan. I think it had something to do with the fact that my Dad was still bitter over the Jets leaving Shea Stadium and heading to New Jersey. I remember he claimed to be a Buffalo Bills fan declaring them the one true New York team. However, his heart never really was in it. On the other hand, my mother was a Giants fan. She got me the Giants helmet and jersey set growing up. Between that and the Giants winning Super Bowl XXI and XXV when I was young, I was hooked.
However, unlike the Mets, I was never raised with any sense of the history of the NFL. To be fair, the NFL doesn’t really seem interested in it either. Anyway, I remember sitting there one day and watching a Monday Night Football game with Frank, Al, and Dan, and I asked my father if Frank Giffords got the job because of Kathy Lee. You see at that time, Kathy Lee Giffords was huge, and I was a little boy who never had any clue as to who Frank Gifford was. My father informed me that Frank Giffords was a great football player, a Hall of Famer, who played while my grandfather was alive. He was a big Giants fan (even had season tickets before he was married). Sadly, my grandfather had passed, so I did what every other kid would do . . . I went to the library to research Frank Gifford’s football career (remember when people used to do that?). Well, I discovered that Frank Gifford was an incredible player, who at that time was the best player ever to put on a Giants uniform for a full career. I was stunned and in disbelief. How could I never know this happened?
I thought of that day as I learned of Frank Gifford’s passing on Sunday. It was remarkable that this man could be so great, and I had no idea about it. It also made me think of Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. I grew up with these players. I love those 1980’s Mets. If I had enough money, I would buy the team and bring back the racing stripe uniforms. I would celebrate them (and the 1969 team) constantly at Citi Field. With the passing of Frank Gifford, I came to think of a better way to celebrate those teams.
I need to let my son know that Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were not only terrific broadcasters, but they are also two tremendous former Mets players. I need to share with him their careers as he becomes old enough. Luckily, Keith and Ron do a better job talking about baseball when they were playing together than Frank Gifford ever did. This is no slight at Frank Gifford, rather, it’s just an observation on the difference between the styles and how each sport views its history. If I do my job right, my son will know about Keith and Ron. If he wants to learn more on his own, I will encourage it. I only hope that the internet will back up my claims on each player.
So with that said, I will keep the memories alive of those players I cheered for and adored as a child and as an adult. That’s the best tribute I can give to Frank Gifford, a man who I knew as someone who excelled only in the broadcast booth. I wish I was there to see him excel in the field. Frank Gifford, Rest in Peace.