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Giants Now: Emlen Tunnell ranked among NFL's all-time greatest safeties


Emlen Tunnell ranked among NFL's all-time greatest safeties by The 33rd Team

One cannot discuss the greatest players in Giants history without mentioning Emlen Tunnell.

The legendary Giant is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the franchise's Ring of Honor as he put together a special career in the NFL, one that saw him help lead the Giants to an NFL Championship in 1956.

The 33rd Team's Elliott Kalb recently ranked the NFL's top safeties of all-time, where Tunnell landed at No. 11.

"Emlen Tunnell was one of the greatest safeties to play the game," wrote Kalb. "He played 14 years, 11 with the New York Giants in a career that ended in 1961. He was the first Black player signed by the Giants, the first Black player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and (according to Tunnell's 1975 obituary in The New York Times) the first Black person hired to a coaching position in the NFL's modern era."

In his 11 seasons with the team, Tunnell was named First-Team All-Pro six times and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl nine times. He played 130 games with 112 starts for the Giants and still holds the franchise record with 74 interceptions. Additionally, he ranks second in franchise history in punt return yards (2,206) and touchdowns (five), and first in total punt returns (257).

In 1952, Tunnell gained more yards on interceptions and kickoff returns (923) than the NFL rushing leader did running the ball.

He was voted onto the NFL's 1950s All-Decade Team, the NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team and the 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Tunnell signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 1948 following a heroic tenure in the United States Coast Guard.

"It is a back story that needs to be remembered," Kalb said about Tunnell. "He played college football at Toledo, where he broke his neck and was given last rites. The Army and Navy rejected his enlistment. The Coast Guard accepted him, and he became an American hero in WWII. Tunnell was on a ship that was twice torpedoed, receiving the Silver Lifesaving Medal for heroism in rescuing a shipmate from flames and rescuing another shipmate who fell into the sea in 1946."

Here is Kalb's full list of the top 11 safeties of all-time:

11. Emlen Tunnell
10. John Lynch
9. Johnny Robinson
8. Cliff Harris
7. Donnie Shell
6. Larry Wilson
5. Brian Dawkins
4. Troy Polamalu
3. Kenny Houston
2. Ed Reed
1. Ronnie Lott

View photos from Monday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Take a look through Giants in the "Top 100 Players" over the years.



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