Fullback Alex Webster of the New York Giants poses at...

Fullback Alex Webster of the New York Giants poses at the team's training camp in Fairfield, Conn. (Sept. 3, 1963) Credit: AP

The Big Blue family is mourning Big Red.

Alex Webster, an all-time great running back for the Giants who also served as head coach of the team, died at a hospital in Port St. Lucie Saturday. He was 80.

Known as "Big Red," Webster played for the Giants from 1955-64 during their glory years. He ran for two touchdowns in the 1956 NFL Championship Game against the Bears, and his 4,638 career rushing yards rank fifth in franchise history.

"Some of my greatest memories growing up were my father taking me and my brother and sister to Giants games at Yankee Stadium," Giants chairman Steve Tisch said. "I knew early in life what a great Giant Alex Webster is and was and what he meant to our organization."

Webster was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor in December.

"Alex was a fantastic player," fellow Giant Frank Gifford said in a statement through the team. "He came down from Canada [where he played two seasons for the Montreal Alouettes] when we were in a lot of trouble. He turned everything around for us. He played on the other side from me. The same things I was doing at the left halfback he was doing at the right halfback."

Webster averaged 3.9 yards a carry and ran for 39 touchdowns in his career. He also is 14th in franchise history with 240 receptions (for 2,679 yards and 17 touchdowns), and his 336 points put him 10th on the Giants' career scoring list. He played in the NFL Championship Game six times.

Webster played during the Giants' heyday, but he coached through some of the franchise's darkest years, from 1969-73. An assistant on the staff, he took over when Allie Sherman was fired after a preseason loss to the Jets. In his first season at the helm, Webster and the Giants went 9-5 and he was named Coach of the Year by United Press International. His overall record was 29-40-1 when he resigned after the 1973 season.

"He inherited a team without much talent," Gifford said. "He didn't have anyone like himself. And he was really too good of a guy to do it. He was a guy's guy. He was a hell of an assistant coach. But to make some of the decisions he had to make as a head coach would be very tough for Alex."

Those years as a head coach did little to diminish his legacy.

"Alex was one of the all-time great Giants," Giants president John Mara said. "He contributed so much to our team as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He was an even better person. We shall miss him dearly."

Webster was born on April 19, 1931, grew up in Kearney, N.J., and attended North Carolina State. His wife, Louise, died in 2009. They had been married for 58 years.

Reports from Florida indicate that his daughter, Deb Moberg, and members of the extended family were at Webster's hospital bedside when he passed away. Funeral arrangements were not finalized Saturday night.

"He was a great guy," said Gifford, who remained close to Webster and last spoke with him a week ago. "He was easy to get along with. Alex made you laugh all the time. He was fun and he had a great sense of humor. He was really a classy guy."

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