Once a Driller! Always a Driller!” was the Bakersfield High School anthem for ’s “Hometown Hall of Famer™” ceremony at his alma mater in Bakersfield, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company
honored the football legend in front of an auditorium filled with more than 1,000 students, former teammates, friends and family including two of his children, Cody and Cassidy.
Event emcee and local Bakersfield television sportscaster, Greg Kerr, welcomed those in attendance and praised Gifford for his career accomplishments for which the audience had the opportunity to see in a brief highlight video of Gifford’s football and broadcast career.
Following the video, George Veras, president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises, took to the podium to share special personal memories of working as a writer for Gifford during his broadcasting days.
“Frank is not only an official Pro Football Hall of Fame member, but also a hall of famer in the booth and a hall of famer as a person who always treated us with respect in our days working together,” said Veras.
Also speaking during the ceremony on behalf of Allstate was local agent Roy Garza who spoke of the tremendous honor he felt being seated on stage with Gifford, a true hometown legend and football champion. “It is such an honor to be up here next to this football great, , and Allstate is proud to recognize Bakersfield High School and this community with the historic ‘Hometown Hall of Famer™’ plaque.”
On the eve of a Bakersfield Driller football playoff game, Bakersfield Head Coach Paul Golla had the honor of serving as plaque presenter for Gifford. Golla took the opportunity to speak to the crowd and especially his football team of the importance of legacy at Bakersfield, leading the auditorium in the chant, “Once a Driller! Always a Driller!” He praised the students and community for continuing the tradition of honoring alumni and for bringing spirit to the plaque dedication ceremony. The crowd then stood in applause as Golla welcomed Gifford to the stage to unveil the historic plaque as the band played the school’s alma mater.
Addressing the crowd, Gifford recalled fond memories of growing up in Bakersfield, including sneaking into Driller football games as a kid. He told the students in attendance, “It’s not all about what we do on the field. It’s also about what we do in the community we live in that makes us legendary.” Gifford made sure the community knew that he has never forgotten where he came from and he’s proud of the legacy the Bakersfield Drillers have made for the school and the community he calls home.
Gifford, a University of Southern California alumnus with All-American honors, was the ’ first round draft choice in the 1952 NFL Draft
. In 1953, Gifford played two ways in an era of one-platoon specialists, averaging almost 50 minutes every game. In 1956, he was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player as he helped lead the Giants to a league championship. A severe injury in 1960 forced Gifford to the sidelines before his decision to retire in 1961. However, in 1962, he returned to the game and his star status, switching from halfback to flanker taking advantage of his great pass-catching skills.
Gifford amassed 3,609 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 840 carries during his 12-season career with the Giants. He also had 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns and threw for 823 and 14 touchdowns. Gifford was named the 1958 Pro Bowl MVP and is a member of the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team. The Giants have since retired his jersey number, No. 16.
Gifford was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
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