NEW YORK (Reuters) - NFL Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli, a Pro Bowl defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants and a consistent winner on the gridiron, died on Tuesday at age 85, the NFL said.
Robustelli, named to seven Pro Bowls and a first team All-Pro six times after joining the NFL as a 19th-round draft pick in 1951, died in hospital in his native Stamford, Connecticut.
An ironman who missed just one game in 14 NFL seasons, Robustelli played in eight National Football League title games, a pair with the Rams and six with Giants, with whom he won the 1956 NFL crown in his first season in New York.
Robustelli played under defensive coordinator Tom Landry, the future long-time coach of the Dallas Cowboys, when he joined the Giants and was a mainstay on a formidable defense that included such standouts as tackle Roosevelt Grier, safety Emlen Tunnell and middle linebacker Sam Huff.
"Andy was part of what, to me, was the best defense ever put together," Hall of Famer Huff said in a statement issued by the Giants.
"We had Andy's experience and we had Dick Modzelewski and then we had Roosevelt Grier and along came another defensive end by the name of Jim Katcavage.
"We had Emlen Tunnell, who is the best safety to ever play in this league, and Jimmy Patton and Erich Barnes. We had the best of the best. And Andy was a leader on that team."
Robustelli, listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds (104 kg), was not big by modern NFL standards.
"Andy had big hands and he was strong," said Huff. "The best thing he did was rush the quarterback and that's what he loved to do."
Robustelli, who also served as general manager of the Giants from 1974 to 1978, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
"It is a sad day for my family," Giants president and CEO John Mara told the Stamford Advocate newspaper. "He's been a great family friend for many years. He's one of the legendary players in the history of the franchise."
(Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Julian Linden)