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.