The Whole Ten Yards

Gifford throughout reflects an uncertainty of image. While unashamed of his beginnings as son of an improvident oil worker and candid about being a dumb jock All-American at the University of Southern California (he was lionized in his friend Frederick Exley’s best-selling A FAN’S NOTES), the author is intent on convincing readers that the hat he has worn for thirty years—that of broadcaster—and his third marriage to the eighteen-years-younger Kathie Lee Johnson have been perfect fits.

Anyone anticipating tidbits of rancor directed at Howard Cosell or at fellow players will be disappointed. Gifford barely acknowledges his intellectual broadcast partner expect to wish Cosell well in his battle with cancer. He accords close-friend status to “Dandy Don” Meredith whose eccentric exploits, off and on the field, provide the book’s most amusing lines. He rates Giant quarterback Charlie Conerly over Hall-of-Famer Johnny Unitas, lauds but laments another teammate, Kyle Rote, as a victim of his own versatility. He likes all his Giant coaches except Steve Owen, gives credit to Jim Lee Howell for having two fledgling assistants—Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry—who would create dynasties at Green Bay and Dallas.

Add Gifford’s name to the long list of New York professional athletes who adored the late Toots Shor who would commonly borrow a hundred bucks from a patron at his bar and then slip it to some desperate boozer. His “best friend” is his wife, Kathie Lee, who was about to give birth to their second child, a daughter, when the book went to press. He takes full blame for the failure of his first marriage—Maxine hated celebrity life—but exudes pride that their daughter married a son of Robert Kennedy even though Gifford had campaigned for Nixon in 1960.