December 6, 1925|
|Died:||May 31, 2011
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||230 lb (104 kg)|
|College:||Arnold College, Milford, CT|
|NFL Draft:||1951 / Round: 19 / Pick: 228|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Andrew Richard Robustelli (December 6, 1925 – May 31, 2011) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants. He played college football at Arnold College and was drafted in the nineteenth round of the 1951 NFL Draft. Robustelli was a six-time First-team All-pro selection and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
Robustelli was born on December 6, 1925 in Stamford, Connecticut, to Lucien Robustelli, an Italian-American and his wife Catherine Robustelli. He attended Stamford High School, where he excelled in football and baseball. At age 18, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served on the USS William C. Cole in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he attended Arnold College, in Milford, Connecticut, where he played both football and baseball. After college, he was drafted in the NFL by the Los Angeles Rams in the nineteenth round of the 1951 NFL Draft. In June, 1951, he was offered a tryout with the New York Giants baseball club. The Giants offered Robustelli a $400 contract to play with their minor league affiliate Knoxville Smokies.
A two-way end at Arnold College, Robustelli was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the nineteenth round of the 1951 NFL Draft and was considered a long shot to make the team. The Rams were impressed with his determination and toughness as a defensive end and he not only made the team, he was an All-Pro in 1953 and 1955. He played for the Rams until he was traded to the New York Giants in 1956.
Robustelli spent nine seasons with the Giants, playing for six conference champions and one NFL championship team. He was a starter on the Giants defense from 1956 until his retirement after the 1964 season.
In Robustelli's first season, the Giants won the NFL championship. They won Eastern Division titles in 1958, '59, '61, '62, and '63, losing in the NFL championship game each time, in 1958 and 1959 to the Baltimore Colts, in 1961 and 1962 to the Green Bay Packers, and in 1963 to the Chicago Bears.
With the Giants, Robustelli was an All-Pro in 1956, and 1958 through 1960. He received the 1962 Bert Bell Award as best player in the NFL, one of the few defensive players to do so. He played in 174 NFL games, missing only one in his career. Over his career, he recovered 22 fumbles (the NFL record when he retired) and intercepted two passes, returning both for touchdowns.
Although small for a defensive end at 6'0" and 230 pounds, Robustelli was exceptionally smart, quick, and strong and known as a superb pass rusher. Robustelli also holds the distinction of being the only football player to have played in the first two nationally televised NFL games.
Robustelli returned to the Giants when he was appointed as its director of operations on December 17, 1973. He took over responsibility for most of the Giants' football matters. Owner Wellington Mara had been making the team's football decisions himself since the death of his older brother Jack in 1965, but had finally been prevailed upon to give up some of his authority. For all intents and purposes, Robustelli was the team's first general manager.
He took over a team whose 2–11–1 record the previous season was the worst in the National Football Conference (NFC). The Giants had to play home games at the Yale Bowl in 1974 and Shea Stadium in 1975 before they were finally able to move into Giants Stadium in 1976.
The Giants never had a winning record during Robustelli's six years in the front office. Their best finish during that span was 6–10–0 in 1978, a season which included a 19–17 debacle to the Philadelphia Eagles on November 19 which ended with what is known to Giants fans as simply "The Fumble." Robustelli announced his resignation as director of operations in conjunction with the Giants' dismissal of head coach John McVay on December 18, 1978, one day after the regular season finale. He had decided one year prior that the 1978 season would be his last with the ballclub. He was succeeded by George Young following that campaign.
After his retirement as an active player, Robustelli spent one year (1965) as a color analyst for NBC's coverage of the American Football League. That same year he purchased Stamford-based Westheim Travel and renamed it Robustelli Travel Services, Inc. Specializing in corporate travel management, it grew into Robustelli World Travel by the time it was sold to Hogg Robinson Group in 2006.
He also founded National Professional Athletes (NPA), a sports marketing business which arranged appearances by sports celebrities at corporate functions, and International Equities, which evolved into Robustelli Merchandise Services. The latter eventually became the foundation for Robustelli Corporate Services.
Robustelli died on May 31, 2011 from complications following a gallbladder surgery.
His grandson, Andrew Robustelli, played college football at Jacksonville University, attended rookie minicamp with the New York Giants in 2015 and also played for the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League in 2016.
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