LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Writing for Esquire magazine, columnist Bob Greene once said of Frank Gifford, "he was always the coolest guy in the room."

"Women look at Gifford and covet his company," Greene wrote. "Men look at him and suddenly feel too fat or too bald or too short or too pale."

Gifford's family today told NBC News that he died suddenly of natural causes at age 84.

He was perhaps the last of the great two-way stars in professional football, a standout on both offense and defense, then went on to just as successful a career as a broadcaster, helping to make "Monday Night Football" an national institution.

He was the MVP of the National Football League in 1956, when he led the New York Giants to a league championship. He married Kathie Lee Epstein, current host of NBC's "Today" Show, on Oct. 18, 1986.

"It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford," the family statement says. "Frank died suddenly this beautiful Sunday morning of natural causes at his Connecticut home. We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."

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