Alex Webster, a great Giants player for 10 seasons who was later the team's head coach, passed away today in Port St. Lucie Hospital in Florida. He was 80.
Webster was a running back for the Giants from 1955-64. He was a vital contributor to the 1956 NFL Championship team and he played in five other championship games. Webster was the Giants head coach from 1969-73.
He was inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor last Dec. 4. Webster is one of 35 Giants greats in the Ring of Honor. The Giants were the only NFL team for which Webster played.
"Alex was one of the all-time great Giants," said John Mara, the Giants President and Chief Executive Officer. "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."
"Some of my greatest memories growing up were my father taking me and my brother and sister to Giants games at Yankee Stadium," said Steve Tisch, the Giants Chairman and Executive Vice President. "I knew early in life what a great Giant Alex Webster is and was and what he meant to our organization. We are all thankful and proud of Alex's induction into our Ring of Honor this past fall."
Webster joined the Giants in 1955 after two seasons with the Montreal Aloutettes 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. But Webster ran for two touchdowns in the Giants' 47-7 rout of the Chicago Bears in the championship game in Yankee Stadium.
Today, more than 47 years after playing his final game, Webster is fifth on the Giants' career rushing list with 4,638 yards (Brandon Jacobs passed him last season). Webster averaged 3.9 yards a carry and ran for 39 touchdowns.
Webster 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.
"Alex was a fantastic player," said Gifford, who remained close to his former teammate after their playing days and spoke to Webster a week ago. "He came down from Canada when we were in a lot of trouble. 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."
Gifford said Webster was a terrific man off the field.
"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."
Webster was a Giants assistant coach in 1967. Two years later, he became the head coach when Allie Sherman was fired after a preseason loss to the Jets. Webster was named Coach of the Year by United Press International after leading the Giants to a 9-5 record. He resigned following a 2-11-1 season in 1973.
Webster's overall record was 29-40-1.
"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."
Webster was born on April 19, 1931. He grew up in Kearney, N.J., where he starred at Kearney High School. Webster played college football at North Carolina State.
Webster was preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Louise, in 2009.
Alex Webster arrangements: Wednesday, March 7 at Martin Funeral Home Address: 961 Kanner Highway, Stuart, Florida Visitation 10-11 service at 11