Alex Webster, New York Giants Running Back Turned Head Coach, Dies at 80

Alex Webster, a former running back for the New York Giants who took over as head coach, died yesterday in Port St. Lucie Hospital in Florida at the age of 80, the National Football League team said.

Webster played for the team from 1955-64, including six championship games. He scored two touchdowns in the Giants’ 47-7 NFL Championship win over the Chicago Bears at Yankee Stadium in 1956. He coached the squad from 1969-73.

“Alex was one of the all-time great Giants,” team President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara, said in an e-mail. “He contributed so much to our team as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He was an even better person. We shall miss him dearly.”

Webster joined the Giants in 1955 after two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. He led the Giants with 634 rushing yards that season. The following year, his 694 yards on the ground were second to Hall of Famer Frank Gifford’s 819 yards.

“He came down from Canada when we were in a lot of trouble,” Gifford said. “He turned everything around for us. He played on the other side from me. The same things I was doing at the left halfback, he was doing at the right halfback.”

Ring of Honor

Webster, who was inducted into the Giants’ Ring of Honor on Dec. 4, is fifth on the Giants’ career rushing list with 4,638 yards, averaging 3.9 yards a carry and running for 39 touchdowns. He is also 14th in franchise history with 240 receptions for 2,679 yards and 17 touchdowns. With 336 points, Webster is 10th on the Giants’ career scoring list.

“Some of my greatest memories growing up were my father taking me and my brother and sister to Giants’ games at Yankee Stadium,” team Chairman Steve Tisch said. “I knew early in life what a great Giant Alex Webster is and was and what he meant to our organization.”

Webster became an assistant coach in 1967 and then followed head coach Allie Sherman who was fired two years later after a preseason loss to the New York Jets. Webster led the Giants to a 9-5 record and resigned following a 2-11-1 season in 1973. Overall, he earned a 29-40-1 record.

“He inherited a team without much talent,” Gifford said. “He didn’t have anyone like himself. And he was really too good of a guy to do it. He was a guy’s guy. He was a hell of an assistant coach. But to make some of the decisions he had to make as a head coach would be very tough for Alex.”

Born on April 19, 1931, Webster grew up in Kearny, New Jersey. Webster played college football at North Carolina State. His wife of 58 years, Louise, died in 2009.

“He was a great guy,” Gifford said. “He was easy to get along with. Alex made you laugh all the time. He was fun and he had a great sense of humor. He was really a classy guy.”

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at nkercheval@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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