Behind the Bronze: Frank Gifford

09/07/2011


Only 267 bronze busts reside in the Hall of Fame Gallery inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. They "immortalize" the greatest players, coaches, and contributors that this game has produced. Each week during the 2011 NFL Season we will sit down for a Q&A with one of these legends.

Frank Gifford, Class of 1977


Frank Gifford's Hall of Fame bio>>>

HOBBIES
I don’t know if it’s a hobby or not but I work out three of four times a week. We have a gym at home. I found that it keeps the waist line about the same size. Maybe it’s not a hobby but it’s something I do religiously.

LAST BOOK YOU READ
I love mysteries. I’ve been a voracious reader all my life.

FAVORITE MOVIE:
Gone with the Wind

FAVORITE MUSIC:
Well, I don’t have much choice with teenage kids. I usually listen to whatever they want to play.

FAVORITE FOOD:
Barbeque steak. It’s probably not the healthiest thing in the world but I happen to enjoy it.

FAVORITE CURRENT NFL PLAYER:
I’ve always liked the Mannings. I knew Archie Manning when he played. I’ve watched his kids grow up. Eli is something extraordinary as is his brother. They’re an amazing family.

FAVORITE NFL TEAM AS A CHILD:
The Los Angeles Rams because I grew up in California.

FAVORITE ATHLETE EVER IN ANY SPORT:
Jim Brown.

ONE PERSON WHO INFLUENCED YOU MOST IN LIFE:
My high school coach. His name was Homer Beattie. When I went into high school no one in my family had ever graduated from high school; all had either gone into farming or the oil fields. Most of them at the turn of the century had gone to work in the oil fields including my father, dropping out when they were 15 or 16 years old, that was when it was time to go to work in my family. Homer Beattie, when I was a sophomore in high school, took me out of a woodshop major and put me on the course where I would eventually go to USC on a scholarship. And after that, and because of the efforts of USC, I was drafted by the Giants and went to New York and played 12 years and put together a pretty good career. When I look back on it, I know it all began with Homer Beattie. He said, ‘you can do this. If you want to do it and work hard enough, you can do it.’

WAS THERE A REASON FOR CHOOSING #16?
That was the number that was available to me at USC because they originally thought I was going to be a quarterback.

TOUGHEST PLAYER YOU FACED:
Jim Brown because he was a target all the time he played. He’d carry the ball 15-20 times a game. He was tough in every way. He was without question, at least in my mind, the best player in football and certainly on his team.

Watch: Frank Gifford recalls his most memorable game>>>

MOST INFLUENTIAL COACH:
Homer Beattie, my high school coach.

WHAT MAKES YOU MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR HALL OF FAME CAREER?
For me it’s coming back, year-in and year-out, and watching the new classes get inducted and realizing how important the Hall of Fame is not only to the individual that’s in the Hall of Fame but to young kids who come and visit the Hall of Fame. They see the busts of the Jim Browns of the world, the Chuck Bednariks of the world, the Frank Giffords. They can read a little about them and now watch a video.

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU MAY SOMEDAY MAKE THE HALL OF FAME?
I never gave it much consideration, I really didn’t. It wasn’t an aspiration like it is today because it was new. I remember playing in the inaugural Hall of Fame Game and I thought ‘this is going to be interesting.’ I didn’t like Cleveland to begin with (laugh). I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I never had much success in Cleveland. At the time I just looked at Canton as kind of a lowercase Cleveland and said ‘who needs to come here.’ But, over the years, I’ve grown to respect the efforts of the people who’ve been so important in creating a Hall of Fame that’s really a destination point for people from literally all over the world.

HOW DID YOU LEARN OF YOUR HALL OF FAME ELECTION?
I was doing the local news show and I read about it on the wire. It kind of cracked me up, ‘how about this?’ It wasn’t all that big of deal, quite frankly. Of course, it’s a major, major thing now but not so much in 1977.

WAS WELLINGTON MARA YOUR ONLY CHOICE AS A PRESENTER?
Absolutely. And, I was his only choice when I presented him.

IF YOU COULD DO YOUR ENSHRINEMENT SPEECH OVER TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY DIFFERENTLY?
That’s a good question. I think I’d probably try to capture what we all felt at the time. I think maybe it’s been lost because of financial changes over the history of pro football but I think we all felt a deep gratitude to the people who had gone before us. I know I certainly did. By the time I went into the Hall of Fame I really felt touched by the fact as I looked at some of the people who had preceded me and thought this is really an extraordinary trip. I think the players of today have lost some of that in the world of dollars signs and agents and what has happened in the game today. They’re far better football players because they’re better athletes but I think they’ve lost some of the warmth and feeling for the Hall of Fame.

YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT OUTSIDE OF FOOTBALL?
I think probably winning an Emmy for Monday Night Football broadcast. I won three of them over the years. I keep them in my trophy room alongside my NFL Most Valuable Player Award. I don’t think anyone else can say that.

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