Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Andy Robustelli passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 85.
Robustelli, a 19th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1951, played 14 seasons in the National Football League with the Rams (1951-55) and the New York Giants (1956-1964). He was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1971.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of Andy’s passing,” commented Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director Steve Perry. “His contributions to the game as one of the NFL’s all-time great pass rushers will forever be remembered. Andy’s individual achievements played such an integral role in his team’s overall success. This was evident by the fact he played on a winning team all but one season and participated in eight NFL championship games during his illustrious career.
“We extend our sincere condolences to the entire Robustelli family.”
Robustelli’s only non-winning season came in his last year. He was the starting defensive end in seven of the eight NFL championships in which he played. He won his first NFL title as a rookie when he helped the Rams to an 8-4-0 record and National Conference championship before knocking off the Cleveland Browns in the ’51 title game.
A three-time Little All-American at tiny Arnold College in Connecticut, where he excelled on both sides of the ball, Andy was a longshot to make it in the pros. He was drafted as a receiver but quickly converted to defensive end.
After five seasons in L.A., Robustelli was eager to return closer to his roots. He urged the Rams to trade him and the team accommodated the request when they shipped him in July 1956 to the Giants in exchange for a first round draft pick. Robustelli led the Giants to a NFL title that season and helped New York claim six division crowns during his tenure as the leader of the team’s defense.
Robustelli was regarded as smart, quick and strong but it was his extraordinary dedication that made him of the most feared defensive linemen of his era as well as a revered legend by Giants fans.
Perhaps his coach with the Giants, Allie Sherman, summed it up best when he declared, “Watch Andy on the field and you’ll be studying a real master. Terrific speed of mind, hands and feet make him the best. But without his burning desire with his extra determination, he was just an average football player.”
In all, Robustelli played in 175 games and missed just one game in his career, that coming in his rookie season. He was named All-NFL seven times and elected to seven Pro Bowls.
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