NEW YORK (AP) -- Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford has died. He was 84.

In a statement released by NBC News on Sunday, his family said Gifford died suddenly at his Connecticut home of natural causes that morning. His wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, is a host for NBC's "Today."

A versatile star on both offense and defense in an era when NFL players were starting to specialize, Gifford went on to a successful second career as a broadcaster on "Monday Night Football."

Gifford was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1956 when he led the New York Giants to a league championship.

"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," his family said in the statement. "We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers."

Gifford was the centerpiece of a Giants offense that went to five NFL title games in the 1950s and `60s. Beginning in 1971 he worked for ABC's "Monday Night Football," at first as a play-by-play announcer and then as an analyst.

Later in life he stayed in the spotlight through his marriage to Kathie Lee Gifford, who famously called him a "human love machine" and "lamb-chop" to her millions of viewers.

Gifford hosted "Wide World of Sports," covered several Olympics - his call of Franz Klammer's gold medal run in 1976 is considered a broadcasting masterpiece - and announced 588 consecutive NFL games for ABC, not even taking time off after the death of his mother shortly before a broadcast in 1986.