Frank Gifford, a Hall of Fame running back who was engaged in one of the most ferocious crashes in NFL history, was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition.
Gifford’s family announced the discovery on Wednesday, more than three months after he died. His family expressed the hope that by making the diagnosis public, greater attention would be drawn to medical studies linking football and traumatic brain injuries.
The Gifford family stated in a statement that “although Frank passed away from natural causes this past August at the age of 84, our fears that he was suffering from the crippling effects of head trauma were confirmed” when the disease, known as C.T.E., was diagnosed. “In the final years of his life, Frank devoted himself to studying the recent insights about the link between repetitive head trauma and its associated cognitive and behavioural disorders – which he had firsthand.”
Because the family did not disclose who made the diagnosis or the severity of the sickness, it’s difficult to assess what influence the discovery will have on the disease’s ongoing research. Doctors at Boston University developed a four-stage measure to determine the severity of the condition at the time of death. Unlike former players like Junior Seau, who committed suicide at the age of 43 and was later diagnosed with C.T.E., Gifford’s symptoms could have been similar to those seen in the elderly.
Early years of life
Gifford is the son of Lola Mae (née Hawkins) and Weldon Gifford, an oil driller, was born in Santa Monica, California. He attended Kern County Union High School, which is now known as Bakersfield High School.
Gifford’s wife Kathie Lee Gifford revealed after his death in 2015 that her late husband grew up in a poor environment and that he and his family occasionally ate dog food. She claimed they moved 29 times before Gifford graduated from high school because his father was unable to find a job during the Great Depression. Gifford “asked Jesus into his heart and that remained with him for the rest of his life,” she added.
Career in college
Because of his low-grade point average in high school, Gifford was unable to receive an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC). As a result, he was able to play football for Bakersfield Junior College for a season. He was named to the Junior College All-America squad while at Bakersfield and received the grades he required to attend USC. During his final season at USC, Gifford was selected as an All-American after rushing for 841 yards on 195 carries. He was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity while at USC. In 1952, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California.
A career in the NFL
From 1952 through 1964, Gifford was a member of the Gifford family. Starting in 1952, Gifford spent his entire NFL career with the New York Giants, playing both offence and defence.
He appeared in eight Pro Bowls and five NFL Championship Games. Gifford’s best season may have been 1956 when he won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award and led the Giants to victory over the Chicago Bears in the NFL title game.
When he was wounded by a heavy tackle during his prime, he lost 18 months of his career. He was knocked down by Chuck Bednarik on a passing play during a 1960 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, sustaining a severe head injury that forced him to retire from sports in 1961. Gifford rejoined the Giants in 1962, switching from running back to flanker (now a type of “wide receiver”).
He was chosen for the Pro Bowl at three
Gifford rushed for 3,609 yards and 34 touchdowns on 840 rushes over his 12 seasons with the Giants (136 regular-season games). He also had 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Gifford passed for 823 yards and 14 touchdowns on 29 of 63 attempts, with six interceptions. The 14 touchdowns are the most by a non-quarterback in NFL history, while the six interceptions are tied for the most by a non-quarterback with Walter Payton.
Life outside of work
After his undergraduate love, USC’s homecoming queen Maxine Avis Ewart, became pregnant while they were students at USC, Gifford married her on January 13, 1952 jeff (b. 1952), Kyle, and Victoria were their three children, with five grandchildren.
Victoria Gifford married Robert F. Kennedy’s son Michael LeMoyne Kennedy. From 1978 to 1986, Frank Gifford married fitness trainer Astrid Lindley. Both of his previous marriages ended in divorce. On October 18, 1986, Gifford married Kathie Lee Johnson, a television personality and singer 23 years his junior. Cody Newton Gifford and Cassidy Erin Gifford joined the couple in Greenwich, Connecticut. Gifford and his third wife, Kathie Lee, were both born on August 16th. The couple hosted ABC’s coverage of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, which they co-hosted.
Frank Gifford, a Hall of Fame football player and commentator who died in August at the age of 84, suffered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain illness linked to concussions, according to his family.
Gifford was the spouse of TODAY co-host Kathie Lee Gifford and was a matinée star and halfback for the New York Giants for 12 seasons ending in 1964. His family made the statement on Wednesday, less than a day after the NFL held a necessary conference call with trainers from all 32 clubs to emphasise the necessity of proper treatment of athletes who show signs of concussion.