Picked in the 19th round from tiny Arnold College in Milford, Conn., in 1951, Robustelli, who had served in the Navy in World War II, was old for a rookie. But he stuck with the Los Angeles Rams and, after being traded to the Giants in '56, became a force in one of the NFL's most celebrated defenses. A six-time All-Pro end, he played in six title games with New York, and his 79 sacks rank sixth on the team's alltime list. "Andy had a quiet confidence," said former teammate Sam Huff. "When he spoke, you listened." The Hall of Famer was also a shrewd businessman, which paid off in the 1956 championship game, played on a frozen Yankee Stadium field, the Giants wore sneakers borrowed from Robustelli's sporting goods store and routed the Bears 47--7.
A sarcastic (and profane) pro in a cardigan era, Hill was called "the Don Rickles of the golf tour" by SI in 1970, when he said that Hazeltine, the host of the U.S. Open, needed "only 80 acres of corn and a few cows to be a good farm." He had the PGA's low scoring average in 1969 and was a 13-time winner even as he paid untold fines. "They're trying to make a gentleman out of me," Hill said in '71, "and that's impossible."
An aggressive tactician and eternal optimist, Tanner was skilled at handling players with outsized personalities. His 1979 Pirates, who featured bristly stars Dave Parker and Bill Madlock, got along so famously that their theme song was the disco anthem We Are Family. That team beat the Orioles to win the World Series, Tanner's only title in a 19-year career marked by 1,352 wins, the 28th most all time.
After turning pro out of high school, Gilchrist was cut by the Browns in 1954 and went to Canada, beginning a 14-year career of bruising runs and bitter exits. Gilchrist, who never lasted with one team more than three years, returned Stateside in '62 and became the AFL's first 1,000-yard rusher in an MVP season for the Bills. Said one linebacker of tackling the 6'3", 251-pound fullback, "You feel Cookie for three days."
The left wing on the famed French Connection line, Martin was the Sabres' most lethal scoring threat—and leading jokester. (He liked to exit an airport bathroom with 100 feet of toilet paper sticking out of his pants.) The Quebec native scored 44 goals as a rookie in 1971--72, the first of seven straight All-Star seasons. Two years later he became Buffalo's first 50-goal scorer; his 382 goals rank second in franchise history.