Jun 012011
 
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Andy Robustelli Passes Away: New York Giants’ icon Andy Robustelli passed away yesterday due to complications from a recent surgery. He was 85.

Robustelli played nine seasons (1956-64) at defensive end for the Giants and was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. He also served as the team’s Director of Operations in the mid- to late-1970’s.

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

Robustelli came to the Giants in 1956 via a trade with the Los Angeles Rams.

“Andy was a great leader. When he came to us from the Rams, it turned everything around defensively,” said former Giants’ halfback Frank Gifford. “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 that was then usually given to an offensive player.

Robustelli played in 175 regular-season games, missing only one contest during his 14-year career. In his last three years with the Giants, Robustelli served as a player-coach.

“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.”

From 1974-78, Robustelli served as the Giants’ Director of Operations.

“Andy is someone I looked up to fiercely,” said former Giants’ defensive end George Martin. “I think he was legendary among all ballplayers, but especially within the illustrious Giants history. He was the G.M. when I came aboard and I was amazed at his intelligence. Andy had such a regal presence about him and people looked upon him with great admiration for his accomplishments. There were many, many times when I tried to emulate Andy, both on and off the field, which is extremely rare.”

“There was no pretense about Andy,” said Martin. “He was the same whether you were talking to him as a G.M. or a former ballplayer or whether he was one of those great icons. He was just Andy. When he was general manager, everyone called him ‘Andy,’ not ‘Mr. Robustelli.’ To see how people – I don’t want to say, ‘worship,’ but I don’t think I’m far off the mark – how they looked up to him and how they were in awe when they were in his presence, you looked at him and said, ‘Man, I wish I could have that kind of impact on people.’ Andy had that magical aura about him. I’m so sorry to hear of his passing and he will really, truly be missed.”

A veteran, during World War II, Robustelli served on the USS William C. Cole in the Pacific Theater. Robustelli’s wife, Jeanne Dora, passed away on April 1. He is survived by nine children and their spouses as well as 29 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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