The New York Giants are one of the truly great franchises in professional sports. They joined the NFL in 1925 and have won a number of important games over the years. They have even put together seasons where when it was all said and done, they stood alone as the champion of the league.
Part of how they have accomplished all of that is by having great players. Each era of Giants greatness has been highlighted by a good selection of stars and superstars. The best of the best from Giants history have been honored by having their jersey number retired, never to be used again. Here is a look at the retired numbers of the New York Giants.
#1 – Ray Flaherty
Ray Flaherty played eight seasons with the Giants, from 1928 to 1935. Like most of the players of the era, he played both offense and defense. He was an end on offense and a defensive lineman on the other side of the ball. In 1932, he led the league in receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception, touchdown receptions, and receiving yards per game. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976 for his coaching accomplishments.
#4 – Tuffy Leemans
Tuffy Leemans was a first round draft pick of the Giants in 1936 and he would play his whole career with the team, a career which ended eight years later in 1943. He was a great runner and in his rookie year he led the league in attempts and rushing yards. He would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.
#7 – Mel Hein
From 1931 to 1945, Mel Hein was a staple on the offensive line of the New York Giants. He never missed a down due to injury and to this day is the only offensive lineman to ever win the NFL MVP Award. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, it’s inaugural year.
#11 – Phil Simms
Phil Simms was a great quarterback and after being drafted by the team in 1979, proved to be exactly what they needed to get them out of the poor performing 1970’s and into the 1980’s where the team would really make their mark. Simms had talent, leadership, and durability as he utilized his amazing consistency to help make sure the Giants had a good chance of winning every time they took the field.
#14 – Y.A. Tittle
Y.A. Tittle played 17 years in professional football, only the last four of those with the New York Giants. Still, he was successful enough and helped lead to wins in enough important games that the team would still retire his jersey. In his first three seasons with the team they would put up records of 8-1-1, 12-2, and 11-2 and win their division each year. Tittle would gain entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
#16 – Frank Gifford
Coming out of college, Frank Gifford could really do it all. The Giants put that to use too and during his career he ran the ball, caught the ball, and even threw some passes too. Frank Gifford was an instrumental member of the 1956 New York Giants NFL Championship team. He was also one of the first truly marketable pro football players.
#32 – Al Blozis
Al Blozis is an interesting and tragic story. He set the world record for the indoor shotput throw in 1941 and then went on to play pro football with the Giants in 1942 and 1943. He was then drafted into the United States Army in December of 1943. On furlough from the military in 1944, Blozis played three games with the Giants. In January of 1945, Blozis was killed on patrol in the mountains of France during World War II.
#40 – Joe Morrison
Joe Morrison, known as Old Dependable on the New York Giants teams of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, was another of the great players to suit up for the team. Though he played during an era when the team was not as successful as players and fans would’ve hoped, he still was able to make a large impact. He was notable for the fact that he seemed more than willing to take the field at whatever position he was needed at.
#42 – Charlie Conerly
Charlie Conerly is definitely one of the all time greats in Giants history. He came to the team after being cut by the Washington Redskins and would eventually lead the Giants to three NFL Championship games, including a win for the title in 1956. His play at quarterback for the team was an essential part of the dominating Giants teams of the 1950’s.
#50 – Ken Strong
Ken Strong played 14 seasons in professional football, including three stints with the New York Giants (1933-37, 1939, and 1944-47). During his career, Strong played multiple positions including fullback, tailback, halfback, wingback, defensive back, and kicker. Strong was one of the many great players to play on the team’s 1934 NFL Championship team. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
#56 – Lawrence Taylor
There has never been a linebacker like Lawrence Taylor. L.T. was the dominant defensive player in the National Football League during the 1980’s and an integral part of two Super Bowl winning teams. He was a true difference maker as he would often force opposing teams to go away from their normal offense so that they wouldn’t run or pass to his side of the field.