|Date of birth:||October 27, 1928|
|Place of birth:||San Antonio, Texas|
|Date of death:||August 15, 2002(aged 73)|
|Place of death:||Baltimore, Maryland|
|NFL Draft:||1951 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1|
|1951-1961||New York Giants|
Career highlights and awards
|Playing stats at|
William Kyle Rote, Sr. (October 27, 1928 – August 15, 2002) was an All-American running back at Southern Methodist University, Class of 1951, played for 11 years for the New York Giants, 1951-1961. Following his playing career, Rote served as the Giants backfield coach and was sports broadcaster for WNEW radio, NBC, and WNBC New York.
Rote was the son of Jack and Emma Belle (Owens) Rote. His family suffered tragedies during World War II; when he was 16, his mother was killed in a car accident and his older brother Jack was killed on Iwo Jima.
Rote attended Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, Texas, where he earned All-State honors in both football and basketball, while also being considered one of the region's brightest pro-baseball prospects. He was a running back in football, a guard in basketball, an outfielder in baseball, and a member of the track team.
After graduating from high school in 1947, Rote accepted an athletic scholarship to Southern Methodist University where he became one of the most celebrated collegiate football players in the country. In a historic game in 1949, in a near upset by SMU over Notre Dame, Rote ran for 115 yards, threw for 146 yards and scored all three SMU touchdowns in a 27-20 loss. Rote's performance was voted by the Texas Sportswriters Association as "The Outstanding Individual Performance by a Texas Athlete in the First Half of the 20th Century." Twenty-five years later, Notre Dame made Rote an "Honorary Member" of their Championship Team. Rote still holds the National Collegiate record for the longest punt. In the SMU vs. Oregon 1949 Cotton Bowl, Rote, kicking out of his own end zone, had a punt land 84 yards from the line of scrimmage. During his years at SMU, Rote also played varsity baseball and track. In his senior year at SMU, Rote was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1964.
Immediately after graduation at SMU, Rote signed a contract with the Corpus Christi Aces of the Class B Gulf Coast Baseball League. In 23 games his batting average was .348.
National Football League career
The New York Giants selected Rote with the first pick in the 1951 NFL Draft. He started out as a running back, but after the first two years switched to wide receiver due to a knee injury. When Rote retired after the 1961 season, he had become the Giants' career leader in pass receptions (300), receiving yardage (4,805), and touchdown receptions (48). He was second highest in total touchdowns (56) and fifth-leading scorer (312 points). His average gain per catch was 15.9 yards. In all, Rote played in four world championship games, including the 1956 NFL Championship against the Chicago Bears, and the 1958 game won by the Baltimore Colts in sudden-death overtime 23-17, known as The Greatest Game, the first ever nationally televised NFL championship game. Rote was the captain of the New York Giants for eight years.
Rote spearheaded the movement that became the NFL Players Association, fighting for equal opportunities for all players, so that all players of all races would receive equal treatment when the teams played on the road. Rote became the NFLPA's first elected president serving for several years, and also acted as the Giants team representative.
Rote was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame, Texas Pro Football Hall of Fame, San Antonio Hall of Fame, Texas High School Football Hall of Fame, Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame, Southwest Conference All-Time Team, and received the SMU Distinguished Alumni Award. In 1995, Rote was named as wide receiver on the All-Time Giants Team in conjunction with the 75th celebration of the founding of the NFL.
Following his playing career in 1961, Rote served as the Giants backfield coach and in both those years New York captured the NFL's Eastern Division championship.
While in the NFL, Rote spent the offseasons as the sports director for radio station WNEW. In the '60s and early '70s and, like his former New York Giant teammates Frank Gifford, Pat Summerall, and Thomas Conlin, he enjoyed a second career as a sportscaster, working at NBC and WNBS New York on radio and television.
Rote and his first wife, Betty Jamison, had four children - Kyle, Gary, Chris, and Elizabeth. His oldest son, Kyle Rote, Jr., was one of the first notable soccer stars from the United States. He said of his father, "To me the most remarkable thing about him from a football standpoint was that he had fourteen teammates who named their sons after him." Rote married Betty-Nina Langmack in 1976.
Rote authored the books, Pro Football for the Fans and The Language of Pro Football, and wrote the Giants Fight Song. He also published two volumes of poetry, was an ASCAP songwriter, accomplished pianist, and oil painter having a number of his works shown at museums throughout the United States.
- Rick Alonzo. "Kyle Rote: 1928-2002 - SMU, NFL great called 'whole package' - Versatile player turned broadcaster dies of pneumonia at 73," The Dallas Morning News, August 16, 2002, page 1A.
- Kyle Rote Facebook page, maintained by the Rote family
- Texas State Historical Association, The History of Texas Online, William Kyle Rote, Sr.
- Kyle Rote Memorial Service, September 19. 2002 (video) on YouTube
- Kyle Rote's Short Sweet Minor League Career
- Kyle Rote: Greatest Moments in SMU Mustang's History
- Popular Giant Rote Dies at 73, ESPN
- Giants' reactions to Rote's death, Sports Illustrated
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