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Giants to honor Frank Gifford by wearing special helmet patches

The New York Giants will honor late Hall of Famer Frank Gifford by wearing patches with his old jersey number, 16, on their helmets this season.
/ Source: TODAY

Whenever the New York Giants take the field this season, the memory of Frank Gifford will be there for all to see.

Giants owner John Mara announced during an interview with WFAN radio on Monday that players will wear a No. 16 patch on their helmets this fall to honor Gifford, who died at 84 years old on Aug. 9. The team will also wear a separate patch on their jerseys honoring Ann Mara, John's mother and the wife of longtime owner Wellington Mara.

Gifford, the husband of TODAY's Kathie Lee Gifford, starred for the Giants as a running back and wide receiver in the 1950s and 1960s and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. He won the National Football League MVP award in 1956 while leading the Giants to the NFL title. John Mara called him "the ultimate Giant" following his death.

The family had a party in memory of Frank last week because he hated funerals, according to Kathie Lee. They are also planning a public celebration of his life, while Kathie Lee said the family is thankful for the "great" gesture by the Giants.

"I think we could fill up a big hall with people who loved Frank, and I'd really like to do that,'' Kathie Lee said on TODAY Tuesday. "We don't know what it looks like right now, but we're going to try to put it together and we hope you'll be a part of it when we do."

MORE: Cassidy Gifford posts heartfelt tribute to dad Frank : 'I lost my best friend'

Kathie Lee expressed her gratitude for the outpouring of support in her return to TODAY on Monday, while honoring her late husband, a father of five children from two marriages. He also was an Emmy-winning broadcaster on "Monday Night Football" for 28 years.

"I want to thank everybody for your love, and your texts and your tweets. Just just the outpouring has been extraordinary," she said. "It's a heck of a way to find out how loved you are. Believe me, my family and I got great strength and comfort from it."

She also noted Frank's early struggles before his football stardom at the University of Southern California and then the Giants. He was born during the heart of the Great Depression and grew up in severe poverty, occasionally eating dog food as a child and "grateful to have it." He lived in 29 places as a child as his father moved around looking for work.

"People who think that he was born with this silver spoon in his mouth? He goes, 'We didn't have spoons.' But it made him so grateful. Honestly he's the most grateful human being I've ever, ever known, and that colored everything he did," she said.

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