When ESPN broadcasters Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico went on the air wearing old-school gold jackets on Monday night, it was a subtle tribute to an NFL legend.
During the Atlanta Falcons' 26-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Monday Night Football commentators honored the late Frank Gifford by wearing jackets that hearkened back to Gifford's days as part of the iconic MNF broadcasting team that included Don Meredith and Howard Cosell.
His widow, TODAY's Kathie Lee Gifford, called Gruden and Tirico "really lovely guys" on Tuesday after their tribute. His son Cody, 25, also appreciated the support for his late father on Monday night.
Gifford, who died at 84 years old on Aug. 9, was an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster from 1971 to 1997. His television stint followed a Hall of Fame playing career with the New York Giants that included winning the Most Valuable Player Award and the NFL title in 1956.
The opening of Monday night's broadcast also had a tribute to Gifford, as his old jersey number, 16, glowed in the background as Hall of Famer Jerry Rice made a catch during the montage. During the pregame show, ESPN analysts Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis and Tom Jackson all wore pins with the No. 16 on them. The Giants also are honoring Gifford this season by wearing No. 16 decals on their helmets.
Kathie Lee received an outpouring of support in the wake of his death of natural causes, which she said came only days after his best medical report in eight years. On Monday, Kathie Lee was at the 85th birthday for friend Jimmy Neary of Neary's restaurant in New York City, where a bartender shared his remembrance of Frank.
"He goes, 'Years and years ago when I was a kid, I wore 16, always 16 in honor of Frank because he was my favorite player,''' she said on TODAY Tuesday. "He said (Frank) came and he was the main speaker at a father-son banquet, and he said, 'Darn if Frank didn't go to every single table, and there must have been hundreds and hundreds of people there, and said hello to every single father and every single son.' You hear so many lovely things like that."
Kathie Lee will be attending the Giants' home opener on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons with her family, where she said the team will be offering another tribute to Frank.
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