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Del Shofner, prolific Giants receiver, dies at 85

SHOFNER

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Del Shofner, one of the most prolific receivers in Giants history and the owner of a line in the franchise's record book for 57 years, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 85.

The New York Times reported that Shofner's death was announced by his daughter, Laurie Shofner Corwin.

Shofner was a five-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL's all-decade team for the 1960s, as selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played the last seven seasons of his 11-year NFL career for the Giants after joining the team in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams. Shofner retired after the 1967 season with 349 career receptions, including 239 with the Giants, placing him 19th on the franchise's career list.

Shofner gained 4,315 yards on those 239 catches, an 18.1-yard average that ranks second in Giants history to Homer Jones' 22.6-yard average (minimum 200 receptions). Jones, who played his final season with the Cleveland Browns, holds the NFL record with a 22.3-yard average.

Shofner's 12 touchdown receptions in 1962 tie him with Odell Beckham, Jr. and Plaxico Burress for the second-highest total in Giants history (Jones and Beckham share the record with 13). In 1963, Shofner caught at least one touchdown pass in five consecutive games, which is tied for the third-highest total in Giants history. Shofner's 13 100-yard games tie him with Hakeem Nicks for fifth on the team's all-time list.

On Oct. 28, 1962, the Giants defeated the Washington Redskins, 49-34 in Yankee Stadium, a game best remembered for the seven touchdown passes thrown by Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle, a figure matched by only seven other quarterbacks in NFL history. Shofner accounted for one of those scores, on a 53-yard pass. More significantly, he gained a Giants-record 269 yards on 11 receptions (tying Frank Gifford's then team record), still the highest total in team history. No one has seriously challenged Shofner's mark; Beckham is second on the single-game list with 222 yards vs. Baltimore on Oct. 16, 2016.

The Giants sent two high draft choices to the Rams on Aug. 28, 1961 to acquire Shofner, who was then 26. Ten days earlier, they had traded lineman Lou Cordileone to the San Francisco 49ers for the 34-year-old Tittle.

Tittle and Shofner immediately became one of the NFL's most productive passing duos. In his first season with the Giants, Shofner caught a then franchise-record and career-high 68 passes. With 1,125 yards, he became the first Giants player to gain at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Shofner followed that up with 1,133 and 1,181 yards, respectively, in the next two seasons. He caught 11 touchdown passes in 1961 and 12 in 1962.

From 1961-63, Shofner caught 185 passes for 3,439 yards and 32 touchdowns as the Giants won three consecutive Eastern Conference championships. It remains one of the most prolific three-season stretches ever put together by a Giants receiver.

Delbert Martin Shofner was born on Dec. 11, 1934 in Center, Texas. He played halfback at Baylor University and was named the most valuable player in the 1957 Sugar Bowl for his 57-yard run that set up a touchdown in a 13-7 upset of undefeated Tennessee.

Shofner was selected in the first round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Rams, who first played him at defensive back. He switched to split end the following year and led the league with 1,097 receiving yards and scored eight touchdowns on 51 catches. Shofner was also the team's punter. He had 51 receptions for 936 yards and seven scores in 1959. But a leg injury and ulcers limited him to 12 catches in 1960, prompting the Rams to trade him to New York.

"I was awfully sad to go," Shofner said, as quoted by Jim Baker and Bernard M. Corbett in their 2010 book, "The Most Memorable Games in Giants History." Shofner said, "it took me probably a couple of months before I realized how lucky I was."

After retiring, Shofner lived in San Marino, Calif. for more than 50 years and owned a business selling ingredients for animal feed. His wife, Carol Shofner, died in 2015.

In addition to Laurie Corwin, Shofner is survived by another daughter, Stacey Shofner Gates, a son David Shofner, and five grandchildren.

The Giants remember the legacy of Del Shofner, one of the NFL's top receivers of his time.

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