Former Giant DE Andy Robustelli dies

Football Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli, who played for the New
York Giants and Los Angeles Rams during a 14-year NFL career, has
died. He was 85.

”He was one of the greatest players in franchise history, and
one of the finest, most dignified gentlemen you could ever meet,”
Giants President John Mara said. ”Andy was a man’s man in every
respect.”

It wasn’t immediately clear where and when Robustelli died. His
death was first reported by The Advocate of Stamford.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound defensive end played for the Rams from
1951-55 and the Giants from 1956-64, but his arrival in New York
ushered in one of the greatest eras in Giants’ football.

New York won the 1956 NFL championship in Robustelli’s first
season. They won five more conference championships during his
tenure, in 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1963. Robustelli played on a
winning team in 13 of his 14 pro seasons and played in eight NFL
championship games.

”Andy was a great leader. When he came to us from the Rams, it
turned everything around defensively,” fellow Hall of Famer Frank
Gifford said. ”He fit perfectly into Tom Landry’s defense. Tom
Landry was such a leader in putting defense into pro football and
Andy was one of the key components of that.”

Robustelli was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was named first
team All-NFL seven times, two with the Rams and five with the
Giants. He was also a three-time second-team All-Pro choice. In
1962, the Maxwell Club selected Robustelli as the NFL’s top player,
an honor then usually given to an offensive player.

”He was far and away above the other defensive ends of his
era,” Gifford said. ”Andy was not all that big, but he was very
quick. With Andy and 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.”

Robustelli played in 175 regular-season games in his 14-year
career, missing only one because of injury. In his last three years
with the Giants, he was a player-coach.

Robustelli was the Giants’ Director of Operations – what is now
called general manager – from 1974-78, prior to George Young’s
arrival. During his tenure, the Giants drafted Hall of Famer Harry
Carson, as well as such standout players as George Martin, Gary
Jeter and Gordon King.

”Andy is someone I looked up to fiercely,” said Martin, who
played for the Giants from 1975-88 and is now the executive
director and president of the NFL Alumni Association. ”I think he
was legendary among all ballplayers, but especially within the
illustrious Giants’ history.”

Martin said Robustelli never stopped coaching, even when he was
working in the front office.

”Andy was always giving you tips about the game – here’s your
general manager coming out to give you some words of advice,”
Martin said. ”For a young man, particularly a rookie, those were
like words from heaven. Although our styles were different and the
eras in which we played in were completely different, one of the
things I know I tried hard to copy was the tenacity that Andy had,
because it’s transferable no matter what era you played in.”

After leaving the Giants, Robustelli was a successful
businessman in his native Connecticut.

Born in Stamford, he played football and baseball at Stamford
High before enlisting in the U.S. Navy at age 18. During World War
II, Robustelli served on the USS William C. Cole in the Pacific
Theater. When he returned from war, Robustelli attended Arnold
College in nearby Bridgeport. He made his family home in Stamford,
where he ran a successful travel agency.

Robustelli’s wife, Jeanne, died in April. She was 84. The couple
had nine children, 29 grandchildren and six
great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.