Mel Triplett, the fullback for the Giants' 1956 National Football League champions, died Thursday in a nursing home in Toledo, Ohio. He was 71.
He died of complications from diabetes, a daughter, Teresa Triplett-Smith, said.
The 1956 final was a memorable game in which the Giants wore white sneakers on Yankee Stadium's frozen turf while the Chicago Bears skidded around on cleats.
In 1996, at a 40th anniversary celebration of that championship, Sam Huff, the Giants' Hall of Fame middle linebacker, recalled Triplett's 17-yard run in the game.
''He ran a trap in the middle,'' Huff told The New York Times, ''and with his head down he went straight over an official and into the end zone for our first touchdown.''
The Giants went on to a 47-7 victory and Triplett was voted the Giants' offensive player of the game. Jim Lee Howell, the Giants' coach, said, ''Without Triplett's blocking, a lot of our plays wouldn't have worked.''
That Giants team included celebrated players like Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Charlie Conerly, Alex Webster, Andy Robustelli, Roosevelt Brown and Rosie Grier. The team payroll was $259,000, including coaches and trainers.
One of the coaches was Vince Lombardi, the offensive coordinator. Tom Landry was the defensive coordinator.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound Triplett was mainly a blocking back for Gifford, who appreciated his toughness in the film room as well as on the field.
''Mel Triplett is the only man I ever knew who made Vince Lombardi back down,'' Gifford once recalled. ''Vince kept running a play over and over, saying: 'You missed that block, Triplett.' 'You missed that block, Triplett.' 'You missed that block, Triplett.' After the third time, Mel growled, 'Don't run that no more.' Vince didn't.''
In eight professional seasons with the Giants (1955-60) and the Minnesota Vikings (1961-62), Triplett rushed for 2,857 yards and 14 touchdowns in 97 games. His career ended when the Cleveland Browns dropped him in 1963.
His younger brother, Bill, played 11 N.F.L. seasons between 1962 and 1972.
Melvin Christopher Triplett was born Dec. 24, 1930, in Indianola, Miss., the second of 12 children. He was raised in Girard, Ohio, where he won 11 high school letters in football, track and field, basketball and gymnastics.
He received 26 scholarship offers to play football. He chose the University of Toledo because ''I thought it would be best to be a big fish in a little pond,'' he told an alumni magazine in 1996.
He won letters all four years at Toledo before the Giants drafted him in the fifth round. After his pro football career, he worked in a Toledo brewery and ran a federal training program.
He was married and divorced twice. He is survived by five daughters, Renee Green, Teresa Triplett-Smith, Angel Masie, Gladys Jean Triplett and Gwen Triplett; seven sons, William, Walter, Sylvester, Calvin, Theodore, Aaron and Alton; eight sisters, Mary Brown, Lesten McElroy, Syphfronia Garrett, Amelia Murray, Lillie Crawford, Maxine Cato, Jacquelyn Miller and Ruth Darlene Grayer; a brother, Bill; and 50 grandchildren. All the sons and daughters live in Toledo.
One grandson, Keith Triplett, is a junior guard for the University of Toledo basketball team. He chose Toledo, said his mother, Teresa Triplett-Smith, because ''he wanted to keep up with our family history.''