The NFL legend went on to a successful second career as a broadcaster on "Monday Night Football," teaming up with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the TV booth.
"It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford," the family said in a statement Sunday. "Frank died suddenly this beautiful Sunday morning of natural causes at his Connecticut home.
"We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."
Gifford was the husband of talk show personality Kathie Lee Gifford, who is a host for NBC's "Today."
"Frank Gifford was the ultimate Giant. He was the face of our franchise for so many years," Giants president John Mara said in a statement. "More importantly, he was a treasured member of our family. My father loved him like a son and was proud to act as his presenter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a favor Frank returned years later by presenting my father in Canton. For my siblings and me, Frank was like a revered older brother whom we looked up to and admired. We loved him and will miss him terribly."
Giants chairman Steve Tisch said, "Not only was Frank a member of the Giants family from the time he left USC, and will be forever, but because Frank, my father (Bob) and Pete Rozelle were so close in the '60s, I felt like he was a member of my family. I always loved seeing Frank on our sideline before our games. He had the handshake of a 25-year-old, and he looked you right in the eye with his big blue eyes. He was such a strong person in every way. He will be missed and will always be remembered as a Giants' Giant."
Gifford, drafted No. 1 overall by the Giants in 1952 out of USC, played halfback, defensive back, flanker and on special teams during his NFL playing career. He played with the Giants his entire NFL career from 1952 to 1964.
Gifford was an eight-time Pro Bowler at the three different positions and was named NFL Most Valuable Player in 1956, the year he led the Giants to the championship, beating the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium in the title game.
"Frank Gifford was an icon of the game, both as a Hall of Fame player for the Giants and Hall of Fame broadcaster for CBS and ABC," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Frank's talent and charisma on the field and on the air were important elements in the growth and popularity of the modern NFL."
A brutal hit from the late Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik in a 1960 game knocked Gifford out of football for 18 months. He retired in 1961, but returned in 1962 as a flanker -- winning the league's comeback player of the year award and becoming a Pro Bowler again.
Gifford finished his playing career in 1964, generating 3,609 rushing yards and 5,434 receiving yards. Gifford scored 77 touchdowns from scrimmage, and he added another on an interception return. As a part-time kicker in 1952 and 1956, he made 10 extra points and two field goals. He became a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 and his No. 16 jersey was retired by the Giants in 2000.
"Frank Gifford's passion, charisma and deep love for the game helped grow pro football into this country's most popular sport," Hall of Fame president David Baker said. "He took the values he learned on the playing field during his Hall of Fame career and applied them to his long and distinguished broadcasting career. And, in doing so, he taught fans of all generations to love the Game."
After his playing days, Gifford was the play-by-play announcer and then an analyst on "Monday Night Football" from 1971 to 1997, announcing a record 411 MNF games for ABC.
"His many achievements were defined by a quiet dignity and a personal grace that is seldom seen in any arena; he truly embodied the very best of us," said Bob Iger, the former president of ABC and current chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company. "Frank's contributions to ABC Sports and our company are immeasurable. We are honored to call him a Disney Legend and I am very fortunate to have called him a dear friend and colleague."