New York Giants: 30 greatest players in franchise history

Eli Manning, New York Giants. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Eli Manning, New York Giants. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images /
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31. . Safety. 1948-58. Emlen Tunnell. 7. player

A prototype for the centerfield safety, Emlen Tunnell made it his job to keep opposing passing games from carving up the Giants secondary. With a knack for tracking the football and getting his hands on it, it quickly became clear that throwing in his direction was a very bad idea.

Tunnell still owns the Giants franchise record for interceptions with a whopping 74. In all but one season in New York, he had at least six. Four of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns, which is still tied as a franchise record. With his deceptiveness and blazing speed, Tunnell made opposing quarterbacks pay for even the smallest of mistakes.

That wasn’t all, though.

Tunnell was also an outstanding punt returner — one of the best in the business during his time. Using that speed of his, he set the franchise record for career punt return yardage (2,206). Between his return skills and defensive prowess, Tunnell earned his way to eight Pro Bowls and six All-Pro selections.

As you can tell, there were many on-field reasons for Tunnell to be so high on this list. However, the ones that also stand are these: he was the first African-American to play for the Giants, as well as the first to be immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Talk about a trail blazer.