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Andy Robustelli, former Giants defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer, dead at 85

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Andy Robustelli, former Giants defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer, dead at 85

Post  Big_Pete on Tue May 31, 2011 11:52 pm

The Giants lost one of their all-time greats. I never saw him play on the field, but I am very much aware of his legacy for the Giants.


Andy Robustelli, former Giants defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer, dead at 85

BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Originally Published:Tuesday, May 31st 2011, 1:25 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 31st 2011, 10:06 PM
Andy Robustelli earns a spot in Canton for his play with the Giants in the 1950s and '60s.
Charles Hoff/News
Andy Robustelli earns a spot in Canton for his play with the Giants in the 1950s and '60s.

Andy Robustelli, an icon of the Giants and their proud tradition of defense, and in the words of co-owner John Mara, "one of the greatest players in franchise history," died Tuesday. He was 85.

The cause of death was complications from a recent surgery.

The Hall of Fame defensive end and native of Stamford, Conn., played 14 seasons in the NFL, including nine for the Giants from 1956-1964.

As soon as Robustelli arrived with the Giants after being traded by the Rams for a first-round pick, he "turned everything around defensively" for the Giants, according to former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Frank Gifford. The Giants won a championship in Robustelli's first year.

"He was the defensive leader along with Sam Huff," Gifford told the Daily News. "They brought it all together. I talked to Sam for a long time this morning. They changed football forever. The chants of 'De-fense, De-fense, De-fense!' started at Yankee Stadium. They used to boo our offense when it came on the field. It was embarrassing."

Gifford added "He was far and away above the other defensive ends of his era."

Long before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the 6-foot, 230-pound Robustelli was an unheralded, 19th-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1951. A two-way player at tiny Arnold College in Bridgeport, Conn., he won over the Rams' coaches with his ability on defense and overcame long odds to make the team.

He had a great start to his career with the Rams, but he was even better with the Giants. During his nine seasons in New York, he helped lead the Giants to six championship games, was a first-team All-Pro five times, and won the Bert Bell Award as the NFL's best player in 1962. Last fall he was one of 30 players, coaches and executives inducted into the Giants' Ring of Honor as part of their inaugural class.

"Andy was not all that big, but he was very quick," Gifford said. "With Andy and (defensive coordinator) Tom Landry, it was almost scary the anticipation that they had of what was going to be run. He and Tom were very, very close. Whereas Tom was the overall defensive coach, Andy basically ran the defensive line along with the linebackers. He was the leader. Everyone knew that. He was the leader in the clubhouse. He was quiet, but when Andy talked, everyone listened."

It was no surprise, then, that Robustelli was a player/assistant coach in his final three seasons with the Giants. He later was their director of football operations - basically, their general manager - from 1974-78. His reign was not successful - at least not on the field - and he resigned in 1978 after "The Fumble."
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