Kyle Rote

Athlete, Activist, Mentor, Poet

By Frank Litsky
New York Times Published: September 20, 2002


Kyle Rote

Kyle Rote became celebrated as a football player, but at a memorial service yesterday at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, he was also remembered as a social activist, a fund-raiser for charities, a mentor for young teammates and a soul-searching poet.

Rote played for the Giants from 1951 through 1961, helping them win the 1956 N.F.L. championship and four conference titles. He died Aug. 15 at 73.

Among those at the service were Wellington Mara, the Giants’ president; Allie Sherman, a former head coach; Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and Rote’s teammate at Southern Methodist University; Roy Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality; and Kyle Rote Jr., a former professional soccer star.

Giants of the past like Frank Gifford, Y.A. Tittle, Andy Robustelli, Dick Lynch, Chuck Mercein, Bob Hyland and Tom Costello also attended.

Kyle Rote and Frank Gifford
Rote, a legendary running back at S.M.U., seriously injured his knee as a rookie in the N.F.L. and became an outstanding wide receiver. As Sherman said, ”He said you had to be able to shift gears, and that’s what he did throughout his life.”Innis recalled that in an era where many out-of-town hotels refused to accept blacks, Rote would stay with African-American teammates at their hotel. ”That’s why he’s my hero,” Innis said.  As Gifford said, ”I think many teammates named their sons after him because we saw in him what we lacked in ourselves.” 

 Photos added by WNEW1130 editors



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