HOF president: Frank Gifford 'built the game'


CANTON, Ohio -- The passing of NFL legend Frank Gifford has cast a cloud over Sunday's proceedings at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame president and executive director David Baker shared his thoughts with Around the NFL on Gifford, the former New York Giants Hall of Famer and broadcast legend who died suddenly of natural causes on Sunday at the age of 84.

"Frank is one of those guys who built the game," Baker said. "He built it as an incredible player, he built it as a broadcaster -- and I think he taught all of us to love it.

"I was there at the Super Bowl two years ago in New York City and we were having a dinner at the top of one of the tall buildings there," said Baker. "And Frank was looking out over the city, and he said, 'You know, it's incredible to me because back when I first started (in pro football) and came from USC to play for the Giants, nobody would know where I was going. Then when I came back after the season, nobody would know where I had been.' He said he was so gratified to live to see how far the game has come.

"And we're all sorry to see him go, and our hearts go out to his family, but this is one of the giants of the game. You know the flag is now flying half-mast at the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- any time we lose one of our gold jackets -- and we've now gone from 167 to 166 because of the loss of Frank Gifford."

I asked Baker if any particular memory of Gifford stood out over their long years of friendship.

"You know, we gave a ring to Michael Strahan last year, and Frank was there. And he wanted one of those rings because he wanted to give his old ring to his son Cody," said Baker. "And to me, just to see a father's love like that. And I know this was an unexpected loss for us. We just found out about it moments ago, and we'll be honoring him tonight."

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