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USC Athletics | August 10, 2015

Fight on forever

  Frank Gifford [right] lettered three seasons at USC from 1949-1951 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.

USC All-American back Frank Gifford, a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame who became a noted television sports announcer, died Sunday in Greenwich, Conn. of natural causes. He was 84.

Gifford was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, and also was a member of the 1994 inaugural class of USC’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

After starring at Bakersfield [Calif.] High and Bakersfield Junior College, Gifford lettered for 3 seasons at USC [1949-51]. He was Troy’s leading rusher and scorer in his 1951 All-American and All-Conference season, and he also served as the Trojans’ placekicker. He made 25-of-31 extra points in 1949 and his 22-yard field goal at California that season was USC’s first field goal since 1935. He also led USC in scoring and interceptions in 1950 and in total offense in 1951.

He then was the New York Giants’ first round pick of the 1952 NFL Draft and played 12 years for them [1952-60, 62-64] as a running back and wide receiver. He played in the Pro Bowl eight times and led the Giants in rushing four years in a row. He helped the Giants to five NFL championship games, including the NFL title in 1956 when he was voted the league MVP. His No. 16 Giants jersey is retired.

After his playing days, he became a TV sports commentator, best known for his NFL play-by-play commentating on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” from 1971 to 1997 primarily with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the booth. He also covered the Olympics for ABC.

He is survived by his wife, television personality Kathie Lee, and his five children, Jeff, Kyle, Victoria, Cody and Cassidy, as well as five grandchildren. Cody was a walk-on wide receiver at USC in 2011. 

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