The Giant Insider Online

Giants’ Mount Rushmore: Who Belongs on the Mountain? Part One

If you were going to commission a New York Giants’ version of Mount Rushmore, who would be the four faces you’d put up there? That’s a tough task, considering the franchise has been in existence for 93 years, has 31 Hall of Famers associated with it has and retired the numbers of twelve players.

I narrowed it down by throwing a ton of names on the wall and see who stuck. The criteria was also simplified by favoring players who played for the club exclusively during their careers and yes, longevity counts. Throw in the individual’s overall persona and standing in league history.

To make it clearer, I decided to not look back any further than the 1950s because football was different game until the Paul Brown era and I don’t really consider it the same game. The ball was rounder before then, the rules were much different and so were tactics and strategies.

This is the first part of a four-part series. The first three posts will consist of honorable mentions with the final piece revealing the four face of New York Giants Football.

Honorable Mention: LB Sam Huff

HUFF

After being selected by the Giants in the third round of the 1956 NFL draft out of West Virginia and almost quitting football in his first training camp, Huff went on to play 102 games for the Giants from 1956-1963. He was a the symbol of the Giants defense on those great teams of the 50’s and 60’s. Huff’s battles with Cleveland RB Jim Brown were legendary. He was voted to four consecutive Pro Bowls from ’58-’61 and was named All-Pro in ’58 and ’59.

Huff was traded to the Redskins by Allie Sherman after the ’63 season and played another 66 games for the Redskins, retiring in 1970. He actually told me the story of the trade, how Andy Robistelli had to deliver the message to him, not Sherman. He spoke of Sherman with blood in his eyes. It was pure hatred.

In 1966, when the Redskins had a 69-41 lead over the Giants in a wild game, Huff ordered the Skins kicker, Charlie Gogolak on the field to kick a FG to run up the score. The final was 72-41 and remains the highest scoring game in NFL history.

Huff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982. He is also a member of the 1950’s NFL All-Decade Team and was inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor in 2010.

CBS featured Huff in a documentary in 1960 called “The Violent World of Sam Huff”, hosted by Walter Cronkite which was an intimate portrayal of NFL life at the time. It made him a national star and the symbol of the Giants’ vaunted defense of that golden age here in New York.

Honorable Mention: OT Rosey Brown

ROSEY

Roosevelt Brown was a 27th round pick out of Morgan State in the 1953 NFL Draft by the Giants and is widely considered the greatest find in team history. Brown would anchor the Giants’ offensive line through one of the franchise’s most prosperous eras, playing 165 games between 1953 and 1965. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time All-Pro.

Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975 and was named to both the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and the 1950’s NFL All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Giants’ Ring of Honor in 2010.

In addition to his long playing career, Brown continued to work for the Giants, first as an offensive line coach and then as a scout. His association with the team spanned five decades. He passed away at the age of 71 in 2004.

Giants’ HB Frank Gifford is quoted in Brown’s New York Times obituary that “I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if it weren’t for him. . . . The longest run of my career was on a pitchout against Washington. Rosie made a block at the line of scrimmage. I cut it up, and then I’m running downfield and I look up and I see No. 79 in front of me, and he wiped out another guy.”

Honorable Mention: Charley Conerly

CONERLY

Like another famous Giant QB we know, Charley Conerly was an Ole Miss legend. He was selected in the 13th round of the 1945 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins but decided to return to Ole Miss after World War II instead. When Conerly finished his college career, the Giants traded for him.

Conerly was the stoic leader of the team for the next fourteen seasons, playing in 161 games and guiding the Giants to the 1956 NFL Championship. He was named All-Pro that season and the next and was the 1959 NFL Most Valuable Player.

His demeanor was just as legendary as his play. Read this passage by Newsday’s Steve Jacobson written upon Conerly’s death in 1996 at age 74:

You could see his face up there on the big billboard over Broadway. His pearly ten-gallon hat was tilted down over his tanned and weathered face as he cupped his hands to light a cigarette. Charlie Conerly was tough as rawhide.

He was Gary Cooper, or John Wayne or Montgomery Clift in “Red River.” He was, indeed, the Marlboro Man. His name never appeared; it was understood. He was quarterback for the New York Giants in the instant pro football came into the Golden Age, but mostly because he fit the part.

“He was a silent leader,” said Sam Huff, whose violent-world defense gave Conerly’s team the other ingredient for winning. “Charlie never talked to anybody. He came in, sat in front of his locker and read the paper. Some people thought he was grumpy; he just didn’t talk.”

Conerly was once described by Giants’ owner Wellington Mara as the “greatest player not in the Hall of Fame.” When he was replaced by Y.A. Tittle in 1961, he still saved the Giants’ bacon by coming into four games in relief to lead the team to victory.

Part Two of this series will post next Saturday.

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Giants' Mount Rushmore: Who Belongs on the Mountain? Part Two - The Giants Guys

  2. Pingback: Giants’ Mount Rushmore: Who Belongs on the Mountain? Part Three – The Giants Guys

  3. Pingback: Giants’ Mount Rushmore Revealed: LT, Frank, Eli and Michael – The Giants Guys

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