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Friday, December 27, 2002
Updated: January 6, 4:57 PM ET
Cuff helped Giants to NFL title in '38

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ward Cuff, an all-purpose running back who helped the New York Giants win the NFL title in 1938, has died.

Cuff died Dec. 24 in Vallejo, Calif., the Giants announced Dec. 27. He was 89.

"We were contemporaries," Giants co-owner Wellington Mara said. "He came to camp in 1937 as a rookie, and we roomed together from then on in camp and on the road.

"I have a lot of fond memories of him. He was a terrific competitor."

Cuff joined the Giants as a fourth-round draft choice from Marquette. He played wingback, fullback, halfback, defensive back and kicker for nine seasons in New York and then finished his career with one season apiece with the Chicago Cardinals and Green Bay Packers.

Cuff scored 319 points for the Giants and was their career scoring leader when he left the team after the 1945 season.

His 14-yard field goal was the opening score in the 1938 NFL championship game which the Giants won 23-17 over the Packers. He later added two extra points in the game.

New York won the Eastern Division championship twice more and tied for another during Cuff's years with the Giants.

Cuff received an Army medical discharge in 1943 and became an All-Pro that season and in 1944. In 1943, he scored 53 points, rushed for 523 yards on 80 carries and made 26 of his 27 extra points, considered extraordinary for the time.

"He was a top player on offense and defense,'' Mara said.

Cuff was also a backfield standout for the Marquette team that was 7-2 in 1936 but then lost the first Cotton Bowl game 16-6 to Texas Christian on Jan. 1, 1937.

After his NFL career, Cuff worked for many years for the Boeing Corporation in Seattle before moving to California.

Cuff, who grew up in Redwood Falls, Minn., is survived by his wife, Doris, two daughters, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. There will be a private memorial for the family.