Andy Robustelli, who made an unlikely jump from playing football at a small college in Connecticut to become one of the National Football League's top players in the 1950s and '60s as a Hall of Fame defensive end with the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants, has died. He was 85.
Robustelli died Tuesday at Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Conn., said a hospital spokesman. The cause was complications from a recent surgery, according to a statement on the Giants' website.
John Mara, the Giants' president and chief executive, in a statement Tuesday called Robustelli "one of the greatest players in franchise history."
Robustelli played for the Rams from 1951 to 1955 and for the Giants from 1956 to 1964. He was a first-team All-Pro selection six times and was awarded the Bert Bell Award as the league's top player in 1962. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
During his 14 seasons, Robustelli's teams competed for the NFL title eight times. The Rams won the NFL championship in his first season, 1951, and the Giants won in his first season in New York, 1956.
"The coaches coached, the players played. I never thought I did anything more," Robustelli told the Hartford Courant in 1999. "We were all about winning. If I had my way, I would have had my teammates up there on the Hall of Fame stage with me."
The Rams drafted him in the 19th round out of tiny Arnold College in Milford, Conn. The first time he played with the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, "I played before more people than had seen me play in eight years of high school and college football," he told The Times in 1954.
At 6 feet 1 and 230 pounds, Robustelli was known for his quickness and his ability to rush the passer. He also was resilient, missing only one game in his professional career.
The Rams traded him before the 1956 season for a first-round draft choice. With the Giants, Robustelli became part of an outstanding defense. Along with winning the 1956 NFL title, the Giants won conference championships in five other seasons with Robustelli.
He was a player-coach in his last three seasons and was the Giants' director of operations from 1974 to 1978. After leaving the NFL, he owned a travel agency and other businesses.
Andrew Richard Robustelli was born Dec. 6, 1925, in Stamford. He served in the Navy during World War II before attending college.
Robustelli is survived by nine children, 29 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, according to the Giants. His wife died in April.