Andy Robustelli, the Giants’ Hall of Fame defensive end in their glory years of the late 1950s and early ’60s, when shouts of “DEE-fense” rang from the stands at Yankee Stadium, died on Tuesday in Stamford, Conn., his hometown. He was 85.
His death, at Stamford Hospital, resulted from complications of recent bladder surgery, a daughter-in-law, Terry Robustelli, said.
In the autumn of 1956, the Giants, one of the N.F.L.’s oldest franchises, finally vied with baseball’s Yankees as a glamour attraction on New York’s sports scene. The Giants’ offense featured stars like Charlie Conerly, Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Alex Webster and Roosevelt Brown.
But it was the defensive alignment, featuring Robustelli, Roosevelt Grier, Dick Modzelewski and Jim Katcavage on the line, Sam Huff at middle linebacker, and a secondary led by Emlen Tunnell, that captured the fans’ imagination. They evoked a celebrity aura, captured in the television documentary “The Violent World of Sam Huff.”
“Never in the history of football had fans gone to a stadium to root for a ‘DEE-fense,’ ” Gifford, a Hall of Fame halfback and receiver, recalled in his memoir, “The Whole Ten Yards.”
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