New York Giants: Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli

By Michael Stewart

Andy Robustelli played his college ball at Arnold College and was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the 19th round of the 1951 NFL Draft. In his first 2 seasons he showed signs of his potential; which finally resulted in being selected to his 1st Pro Bowl in 1953 and again in 1955. Robustelli was only 6’0″ and 230 pounds; which even in his time was considered small. However; Robustelli was exceptionally smart, quick, and strong and known for his superb pass rushing ability. .

After spending his fist 5 seasons with the Rams, Robustelli was traded to the New York Giants in 1956 by the Rams due to Rams Coach Sid Gillman unwillingness to except the fact that Robustelli would be a couple of days late to training camp, due to the birth of his daughter. Gillman ordered Robustelli to report to camp on time and when Robustelli didn’t, Gillman placed a call to Wellington Mara of the Giants and offered the All-Pro DE in a trade.

Robustelli spent the rest of his career (9 seasons) with the Giants; which included six conference champions and one NFL championship team. In Robustelli’s first season, the Giants won the NFL championship. They won Eastern Division titles in 1958, ’59, ’61, ’62, and ’63, losing in the NFL championship game each time, in 1958 and 1959 to the Baltimore Colts, in 1961 and 1962 to the Packers and in 1963 to the Bears.

With the Giants, Robustelli was an All-Pro in 1956, and 1958 through 1960. He received the 1962 Bert Bell Award as best player in the NFL, one of the few defensive players to do so. He played in 174 NFL games, missing only one in his career. Over his career, he recovered 22 fumbles (the NFL record when he retired) and intercepted two passes, returning both for touchdowns.

After his retirement as an active player, Robustelli spent one year (1965) as a color analyst and also founded The National Professional Athletes (NPA), a sports marketing business which arranged appearances by sports celebrities at corporate functions, and International Equities, which evolved into Robustelli Merchandise Services. The latter eventually became the foundation for Robustelli Corporate Services

Robustelli returned to the Giants when he was appointed as its director of operations on December 17, 1973. He took over responsibility for most of the Giants’ football matters. Owner Wellington Mara had been making the team’s football decisions himself since the death of his older brother Jack in 1965, but had finally been prevailed upon to give up some of his authority. For all intents and purposes, Robustelli was the team’s first GM.

He took over a team whose 2–11–1 record the previous season was the worst in the NFL as the Giants had to play home games at the Yale Bowl in (1974) and Shea Stadium (1975) before they were finally able to move into Giants Stadium in 1976.

Arguably, the Giants 1st star DE in franchise history and a true Hall of Famer. In all, Robustelli’s career was highlighted with the following achievements:

  •  2 time NFL champion (1951, 1956)
  • 7 time Pro Bowler (1953, 1955-1960)
  • 4 time Second-team All-Pro (1952, 1954, 1957, 1962)
  • 6 time 1st team All Pro (1953, 1955, 1956, 1958–1960)