HOF Mail Bag - Frank Gifford

12/08/2005
GiffordMr. Gifford, I have a personal love of great running backs. You were a great running back in your time and you have been a part of pro football for decades. My question is who was the greatest running back you ever saw while playing or from the booth? - Eric

Well Eric, thanks for including me in a rather lofty sort of group in the National Football League. I don't think there's any question in my own mind who was the greatest running back of all-time and that's Jim Brown. I played against Jim Brown and I watched him play. He was the only player that I can recall as an offensive player, when I was on the sidelines and our defense was on the field, that I would walk out to the sidelines to watch him play. I got to know him in several Pro Bowls we played in and I visited with him the other day. He had an up and down social career but he really got his life straightened out, he's doing very well and he is a truly remarkable athlete, the best I've ever seen.

What was it like having Jim Lee Howell as a head coach, as well as having two future HOF coaches, such as Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi? Thank you for your time. - Jeff Gray, Aberdeen, NJ

Well if I was ever going to be a head coach in the National Football League I would want the situation that Jim Lee Howell had. He had Tom Landry as his defensive coach and Vince Lombardi as his offensive coach. Both of them are in the Hall of Fame and Jim is no longer with us but he had the good sense, and believe me it takes a lot of that, to realize your limitations and he did. He turned the offense over to Lombardi and the defense to Landry and as he himself used to say, a former Marine Corps sergeant, he used to say "All I do is pump up the balls and blow the whistle." That was very smart of him and a lot of coaches can't do that. They can't handle the fact that some of their personnel are better than they are at certain specifics of the game.


Frank_Gifford Hi, Frank. I enjoyed watching you on Monday Night Football for so many years. My question for you is what was your most memorable moment in pro football?
- Fran Haefner, Lancaster PA

As a player in pro football, myself, especially if your asking that, there was so many of them I don't like to pick any of them out. I think probably winning the National Football League Championship, beating the Chicago Bears 47-7. In 1956, I was MVP of the league and it was my best year.

As far as on Monday Night I've never tried to pick out a game on Monday Night, they all kind of have a blur coming together. We had such great telecasts over the years. I did 27 years of Monday Night Football, over 400 games, so it's really difficult to pick out one of them but there were a lot of great moments on Monday Night and I thoroughly enjoyed them and I hope you did.

How has the running back position evolved over the years? - Doug Heslip

The running back position has changed dramatically, not so rapidly, but if you were to look at what a running back does today and go back into even the '70's and even into the '50's when I started playing, oddly enough the Giants have a running back, and a great one, in Tiki Barber. He does pretty much just what I did when I was playing. They use him in the running game, they use him in the passing game, they don't flank him out a lot but now they're even starting to do that. When I played, we had two halfbacks and a fullback and we would split left end with the right halfback, he would split to the right, that would be our balanced formation.

Today, of course, they usually have either one back or two backs and three wide receivers and that third wide receiver when I played would have been a running back. I hope that's not too complicated because it really isn't complicated and oddly enough some of the teams are even going to go back to it. Things all of a sudden start popping up in pro football that have been around for a long time. The thing that has always awed me over recent years is how the football players keep getting bigger, stronger, and better every year.


Frank_GiffordYou are most remembered by younger fans as the long time voice of Monday Night Football. Since your departure, there has always been something missing in the booth, even with the great Al Michaels at center stage. Do you watch a lot of football these days, and who are some of your favorite announcers? - Scott Bressler, Denver, CO

Well, Al is by far and away the premier play-by-play broadcaster in football. Maybe in any sport, I don't know whether you've heard him in basketball, he's great there. He's a good anchor man, he's just a complete consummate professional and he brought that to Monday Night Football.

I really don't have any that I don't particularly like. I'm amazed at people that come up to me and say "You hear so-and-so, I can't stand…", none of them bother me, they really don't. I know how much work goes into it and so I have a lot of respect for people like Keith Jackson and Al Michaels and who (ever) else. So many of them I shouldn't even start.

It was a wonderful, wonderful life for me, like I said I did 27 years of Monday Night Football. Prior to that, even when I was a player here in New York, I worked in the local news and developed my own trade there. I worked eight years for CBS on games before I went into Monday Night Football so I had a lot of years of what I called "the easy life" if you will. I worked hard at it but I certainly enjoyed it. I wouldn't trade any one of the games. Right now I have a young 15-year-old and a 12-year-old and I'm just happy to get off all the airplanes.

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