Born: April 19, 1931
Died: March 3, 2012
Town: Kearny, New Jersey
Alexander Webster was born April 19, 1931 in Kearny. Alex grew up in Kearny and starred for the Kearny High football team. He was recruited by North Carolina State head coach Beattie Feathers, the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in the NFL. Alex played running back for the Wolfpack varsity from 1950 to 1952. A bruising runner, he stood 6–4 and weighed over 220 pounds. Big Red was a difficult man to bring down.
Alex turned his attention toward a pro career, but after being drafted in the 11th round by the Washington Redskins he decided to try his luck in Canada. He played for the Montreal Alouettes for two seasons. In 1954, he was an All-Star. That season he teamed with Joey Pal and Hall Patterson to help Montreal reach the Grey Cup. They were upset 26–25 in an exciting game that turned on a 90-yard fumble return by CFL legend Jackie Parker.
In 1955, Alex returned to his old stomping grounds and made the New York Giants. He was the team’s leading ground gainer as a rookie, sharing the backfield with Frank Gifford, Mel Triplett and quarterback Charlie Conerley. The Webster-Gifford duo was one of the most formidable one-two punches in NFL history. Alex was the battering ram, while Frank was the glamour guy with the speed and moves.
When it came to enjoying their celebrity, however, it was Alex who attracted the attention. He was a inveterate night owl and a heavy smoker. Teammates marveled that he was able to make it through a quarter, much less an entire game. Alex had a serious side, of course. He was a student of the game, and also a founding member of the NFL Players Association.
Alex was named Second-Team All-Pro in 1955 and 1956. In 1956, the Giants won the NFL Championship. In the title game against the Bears, Alex gained 27 yards on the ground and added 75 more yards on five pass receptions.
Alex continued to be a key part of the Giants’ backfield into the 1960s. He was picked to play in the Pro Bowl in 1958 and again in 1961. His best season was 1961, when he rushed for 928 yards and averaged nearly five yards per carry. He also caught 26 passes out of the backfield. Alex retired after the 1964 season with 4,638 career rushing yards. He scored a total of 56 touchdowns as a runner and receiver.
Alex took an assistant’s job with the Giants under Allie Sherman. In 1969, Sherman was shown the door and Alex was tabbed to replace him. Alex led the Giants through some lean years, registering just one winning record in five years at the helm. In 1970, with Fran Tarkenton calling the signals, Ron Johnson piling up ground yardage and four receivers with 40+ catches, the Giants went 9–5 and missed the playoffs by one win. Alex was named NFL Coach of the Year. He resigned after the 1973 campaign, when the Giants went 2–11–1.
After doing color on Giants broadcasts for a few years, Alex moved to Florida with his wife Louise in the 1980s. He worked as a salesman and owned a couple of restaurants before retiring in the late 1990s. The cigarette smoking eventually caught up with Alex, who has battled lung disease in recent years. He passedf away in 2012 at the age of 80.