Many remember Summerall only for his legendary broadcasting career. Summerall, though, was the New York Giants' placekicker from 1958-61.
Summerall made what Lew Freedman, in his book 'New York Giants: The Complete Illustrated History,' calls "the most significant kick in Giants' history" when he kicked a 49-yard field goal in a blizzard to help the Giants past Cleveland in a 1958 playoff game.
In the foreward to Freedman's book, Summerall described the scene in his own words.
The 1958 season was a great year to join the Giants. I was always listed as an end and a kicker on rosters, but I was mostly the kicker. As the season wore down we were in a tough battle to win the Eastern Conference against the Cleveland Browns. We had to beat them to force a playoff and I was sent onto the field in a blizzard to attempt a long field goal. Jim Lee Howell called the play for the kick. The wind was swirling and the snow covered the yard markers. The line of scrimmage was near midfield and nobody thought we would try for a field goal. When I jogged into the huddle our quarterback, Charlie Conerly, said "What the hell are you doing here?"
Officially, the kick was listed as being from 49 yards, but nobody really knows how far it was. Some guy wrote that it was 52 yards. Some people said it was 55 yards. I know it was a long way. I knew I had to hit it in the sweet spot to get it that far, especially in weather conditions like that. I knew as soon as I touched it that I had hit it where I wanted to hit it. So I knew it was going to get there for distance, but I didn't know if it was going to be true enough. I could see the goal post and I could see the ball on its flight. It behaved like a knuckleball, breaking back and forth. I just hoped that it would break through the uprights. It did.
When I ran back to the sidelines [Vince] Lombardi grabbed me and hugged me and yelled "You son of a bitch, you know you can't kick it that far." We won the game and that is still considered one of the most famous plays in Giants history.
In 1959, Summerall led the NFL in field goals made (20), field goals attempted (29) and field-goal percentage (68.9%). Showing the difference between kicking in those days and modern placekicking, Summerall made only 59-of-112 field-goal attempts (52.7%) during his four seasons with the Giants.
Other Notables Who Wore No. 88
- Bob McChesney (End, 1950-52): Caught 54 passes for 1,040 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons with the Giants.
- Ike Hilliard (WR 1997-2004): Drafted in the first round in 1997 (seventh overall) HIlliard had eight productive seasons with the Giants. He caught 368 passes as a Giant before moving on to finish his career in Tampa Bay, and caught at least 60 passes in a season twice.