Del Shofner, Master Pass Receiver With the New York Giants, Dies at 85

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The Giants went to the N.F.L. championship game in 1961, ’62 and ’63, but lost twice to the Green Bay Packers and then to the Chicago Bears. Shofner caught 32 touchdown passes while racking up more than 3,400 yards in that span.

“I was awfully sad to go,” he said of his trade from the Rams to the Giants, as he was quoted by Jim Baker and Bernard M. Corbett in their oral history “The Most Memorable Games in Giants History” (2010). “It took me probably a couple of months before I realized how lucky I was.”

Delbert Martin Shofner was born on Dec. 11, 1934, in Center, Texas. He played halfback at Baylor, starred as a sprinter and was named most valuable player in the 1957 Sugar Bowl game for his 54-yard run setting up a touchdown in a 13-7 upset of unbeaten Tennessee.

The Rams selected Shofner in the first round of the 1957 draft. After playing at defensive back, he was switched to split end in 1958 and gained a league-leading 1,097 yards in pass receptions. He had another fine season in 1959 but caught only 12 passes in 1960, when he battled ulcers and a leg injury, prompting the Rams to ship him to the Giants.

Awesome as it was, the Tittle-to-Shofner combination thrived for only three seasons. Tittle, whose leveling by a Pittsburgh Steelers lineman in a 1964 game was captured in a memorable photo, retired after that season. Shofner’s ulcers and leg injuries limited his play in his last four years as a Giant. He retired following the 1967 season with 349 career receptions for 51 touchdowns and nearly 6,500 yards.

He later owned a business selling ingredients for animal feed.

Shofner lived in San Marino for more than 50 years. His wife, Carol Shofner, died in September 2015.

He is survived by three children, Ms. Corwin, Stacey Shofner Gates and David Shofner, as well as five grandchildren.

Tittle became a celebrity in New York — the balding, often-battered warrior who found a second life in football and was later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shofner could not match Tittle’s charisma. But the Texan known as Slim, along with his teammate Charlie Conerly, graced billboards and magazines throughout the country. They were among the figures chosen to model as that American advertising icon of their day, the Marlboro Man.

Michael Levenson contributed reporting.


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