Frank Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015)

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Frank Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015)

Post by Cowboy1959 on Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:23 am


It seems somehow fitting that Frank Gifford would pass away on a day in which our attention turns to prime time football, for it was Gifford, along with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith, who defined and shaped our experience with network broadcasts of night games and, in the process, helped create a national obsession.

Gifford was the ringmaster of the weekly circus known as Monday Night Football, serving as the voice of calm amid the chaos, and as the set-up man for his more vocal and outrageous sidekicks.  As the MNF broadcast grew from a mere game into a national phenomenon, Gifford was the steady hand at the wheel, pulling the show back to the action on the field every time Cosell or Meredith steered it onto a side road.  Keeping the outsize egos and personalities of his costars from overshadowing the game was one of the most underrated performances in TV history, and Gifford always did it with grace and class.

Gifford lasted longer on MNF than anyone who has ever worked on the broadcast—27 full seasons in all, and occasional appearances after that--and it's doubtful that anyone will surpass his years of service to the show.  And even though he was far from spectacular as a broadcaster (he made a lot of mistakes in down and distance, mispronounced player names, and occasionally got confused about the teams that were playing), he was solid in his role, and was in every sense of the word a professional.  He was handsome, with a smooth voice and a charming manner, and his sex appeal was a major factor in MNF's appeal to the female audience.  He had a lot going for him, and he brought it to the show every week.

I've never enjoyed MNF as much as I did during its heyday in the early 1970s, and the show doesn't seem as important as it used to.  Some of it has to do with the switch from broadcast TV to cable, some of it has to do with the fact that, 45 seasons later, the novelty has long-since worn off, and some of it has to do with the fact that I'm busier than I used to be in those days.

But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the show has lost its unique and compelling personality over the years.  In the old days we tuned in not only for the game, but to join the weekly party Frank, Howard, and Don put on.  We couldn't wait to sit down with them and hear what they had to say because, agree or disagree, we knew it would always be interesting and fun.  Don Meredith called those early years of the show "Mother Love's Traveling Freak Show" for the hoopla that surrounded their arrival in the host city, and that spirit ran through the entire broadcast.  That it never got out of hand remains one of the enduring achievements of Frank Gifford's career.

Although there aren't many surviving copies of those early broadcasts, we here at FCPS are lucky to have some of them available to study and enjoy.  It's an appropriate tribute to three giants of NFL broadcasting, and now that the team is reunited in eternal memory it will be a way of keeping them—and ourselves--forever young.

R.I.P., Frank.
avatar
Cowboy1959

Join date : 2016-08-16
Posts : 84

Back to top Go down

Re: Frank Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015)

Post by caddy4bp on Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:32 am

MNF was in those days something you didn't want to miss. The banter was often better than the game itself. Back in Danbury, CT we had a neighborhood gathering every Monday night, with about 8 regulars and another 3-4 semi regulars. We all sat without talking much, to hear what Dandy Don and the Mouth would get into. There have been other groups and none come close to the originals. They have really gotten progressively worse IMO. I can't listen to Gruen so I turn the sound off unless necessary.

caddy4bp

Join date : 2016-08-18
Posts : 97
Age : 65

Back to top Go down

Re: Frank Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015)

Post by Cowboy1959 on Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:54 am

After about 1977 MNF didn't feel quite as exotic or special as it had during its first years, and after Cosell and Dandy Don left the booth for good (1983 and '84, respectively), it was never the same again. For me, the finishing blow was the move from ABC to ESPN, where it has become almost a niche game that I usually opt out of after a full weekend of games.

Frank made a lot of mistakes on down and distance, player names, etc., especially in his final years as play-by-play man. I think his strength was always analysis and he was actually better after Al Michaels took over the game calls. Still, he provided a firm and steady hand on the tiller in those early years, and he kept the show from getting too far off course--a job that couldn't have been easy with the Alpha Male personalities of his cohorts. For that alone he deserves to be remembered as an integral part of broadcasting history.
avatar
Cowboy1959

Join date : 2016-08-16
Posts : 84

Back to top Go down

Re: Frank Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015)

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum