EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dave Jennings, a former New York Giants punter and radio analyst, has died. He was 61.
The Giants announced that Jennings died Wednesday at his home in Upper Saddle River, N.J. The team was told of his death by his sister, Susan Jennings, and several close friends.
The most prolific punter in Giants history, Jennings had battled Parkinson’s disease, a chronic degenerative neurological disorder, since 1996.
Jennings played for the Giants from 1974-84. He holds the franchise records for punts (931, 405 more than second-place Sean Landeta) and yards (38,792). Jennings was selected to play in the Pro Bowl in 1978, ’79, ’80 and ’82. He punted a career-high 104 times in 1979, which was the team record until Brad Maynard had 111 punts in 1997.
Jennings punted for more than 4,000 yards in a season three times (1979-81) and had a career-best 44.8-yard average in 1980.
“Dave Jennings was one of the all-time great Giants,” said the team president, John Mara. “He was a valued member of the Giants family for more than 30 years as a player and broadcaster, and we were thrilled to include him in our Ring of Honor. More importantly, he was an outstanding person who battled his illness with courage and dignity. We will miss him dearly.”
The Giants’ chairman, Steve Tisch, said Jennings lived his life with class and dignity, and was the ultimate professional as a player and commentator.
“Dave is and always will be a Giants’ Giant,” Tisch said.
Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson said Jennings, the first player he met when he joined the team in 1976, was a great guy who was loved by everyone.
“The Giants were not very good when Dave and I were teammates in the 1970s,” Carson said. “Dave was one of the few bright lights on those teams as a punter.”
After leaving the Giants, Jennings punted for the Jets from 1985-87. He worked as a radio commentator for Jets games from 1988-2001.
In 2002, Jennings moved into the Giants’ radio booth with Bob Papa and the late Dick Lynch. He was also a part of the Giants’ pregame and postgame shows. Jennings was replaced in the booth by Carl Banks after the 2007 season and left broadcasting the following year.
Jennings was part of the Giants’ second Ring of Honor class in 2011. He joined the ring with running back Alex Webster, tight end Mark Bavaro and linebackers Brad Van Pelt and Banks.
Jennings didn’t play football at Garden City High on Long Island. He attended St. Lawrence University, winning two letters in basketball and earning the punter’s job as a walk-on.
49ERS: San Francisco signed defensive end Justin Smith to a two-year contract extension, keeping one of its most important defensive players off the free-agent market next offseason.
Smith, 33, has been the anchor to one of the NFL’s top defenses the past two years, helping the 49ers make it to the NFC championship game following the 2011 season and to the Super Bowl last season.
COWBOYS: Dallas has a four-year deal with receiver Terrance Williams, its third-round draft pick from Baylor.
The Cowboys still have unsigned their top two picks and another third-rounder.
BUCCANEERS: Tampa Bay signed free-agent cornerback Michael Adams, a seventh-year pro, and waived guard Jeremy Lewis.
Adams started seven of the 74 games he appeared in with Arizona over the past six seasons.