Frank Gifford, the NFL Hall-of-Famer and former sports broadcaster, passed away Sunday. He was 84.
The Gifford family released this statement after his passing:
“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.”
Gifford played running back, receiver and defensive back for the New York Giants in his NFL career, which spanned from 1952-1964. In 1956, he was named league MVP and led the Giants to an NFL championship.
He sat out the 1961 season after a suffering a head injury, but returned in 1962 and won Comeback Player of the Year.
Gifford was an eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro.
Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch both released statements on Gifford's passing.
"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. My father loved him like a son and was proud to act as his presenter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a favor Frank returned years later by presenting my father in Canton. 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," Mara said.
"Not only was Frank a member of the Giants family from the time he left USC, and will be forever, but because Frank, my father (Bob) and Pete Rozelle were so close in the '60s, I felt like he was a member of my family. I always loved seeing Frank on our sideline before our games. He had the handshake of a 25-year old, and he looked you right in the eye with his big blue eyes. He was such a strong person in every way. He will be missed and will always be remembered as a Giants' Giant," Tisch said.
After retiring from football, Gifford became a sports broadcaster, most notably as a play-by-play announcer and color commentator on Monday Night Football from 1971 to 1997.
He is survived by his wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, and children.
GALLERY: CLASSIC PHOTOS OF FRANK GIFFORD
Classic Photos of Frank Gifford
Running back Frank Gifford of the New York Giants runs behind teammate Darrell Dess during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles circa 1960's at Yankee Stadium. Gifford played running back, receiver and defensive back for the Giants in a career that spanned from 1952-1964.
Frank Gifford lays motionless while Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik celebrates a hit that put the New York Giant out of a November 1960 game.
Gifford is taken from the field after being hit by Chuck Bednarik of the Philadelphia Eagle, to stop the last chance the New York Giants had of coming back and tying the score during a November 1960 game at Yankee Stadium. Gifford was knocked unconscious as the Eagles beat the Giants, 17-10.
Frank Gifford, halfback of the University of Southern California Trojans, poses for a photo at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
Kyle Rote, left, and Frank Gifford of the New York Giants chat in the locker room prior to the start of the NFL Championship Game, which the Giants ultimately lost to the Baltimore Colts, 1958.
Gifford in action during the NFL Championship game against the Baltimore Colts at Memorial Stadium in 1959.
Del Shofnel, left, and Frank Gifford of the New York Giants sit on the bench during a game, circa 1962-64.
Frank Gifford scores a touchdown during a game against the Washington Redskins at Yankee Stadium in October 1960.
Frank Gifford watches from the bench during a 1959 game at Yankee Stadium.
Gifford on the sidelines during a 1962 game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Gifford makes a catch against the Dallas Cowboys in 1962.
Gifford attempts to make a catch against the Dallas Cowboys.
Gifford at the First World Championship Game, AFL vs. NFL, later known as Super Bowl I, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1967.
Gifford interviews Evel Knievel on the Wide World of Sports in 1976.
Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in 1971.
Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and Don Meredith in 1971.
Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford in 1974.
NFL commentators Alex Karras, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford in 1975.
Alex Karras, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford in 1976.
Forrest Gregg, Frank Gifford, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr and Bill Willis pose after the 1977 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.
Frank Gifford talks with quarterback Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium in November 1994.
Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford in 1980.
Joe Namath, Frank Gifford and O.J. Simpson in the booth in 1985.
Frank Gifford with wife Kathie Lee and children Cody and Cassidy at the opening night of her Kathlie Lee's musical "Under The Bridge" in January 2005.
Virginia Sloane, from Heckscher Foundation for Children, Kathie Lee Gifford, Frank Gifford, Cody Gifford and Cassidy Gifford attend the unveiling of a new variety Cody Gifford House Program and Playground in October 2007 in New York City.
Frank Gifford escorts his daughter Vicki into New York’s St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church onMarch 14, 1981, for her wedding with Michael Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Al Michaels, left, and his former 'Monday Night Football' announcing partner Frank Gifford talk over their experiences at halftime of the last ABC Monday Night Football game telecast, between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets, at Giants Stadium on Dec. 26, 2005.
Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor, Wellington Mara and Frank Gifford at a Giants-Cowboys game in 2003.
Former New York Giants Frank Gifford and Y.A. Tittle on the field before a game against the St. Louis Rams in September 2003.
Frank Gifford and Regis Philbin appear on NBC News' "Today" show.
Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford appear on NBC News' "Today" show.