(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
HOUSTON -- Former BYU All-American quarterback and longtime KHOU-TV Sports Director Giff Nielsen announced he is leaving his job at Channel 11 in Houston after 25 years on the air. He delivered his last sportscast during the 10 p.m. newscast on March 31.
Nielsen joined the KHOU-TV in May 1984 after retiring from the Houston Oilers. During the past quarter century, he covered all of the major sporting events involving Houston teams, including two Rockets NBA Championships, the Astros World Series appearance in 2005 and seven straight NFL playoff appearances for the old Houston Oilers.
"It's been a glorious 25 years. This has been an incredible, incredible family here at Channel 11," Giff said when he told the 11 News staff.
“Giff’s contributions to Houston are larger than life,” said Susan McEldoon, KHOU-TV President and General Manager. “KHOU is fortunate to have had a man of Giff’s character lead our sports coverage for all these years.”
For Nielsen, the road to Houston and the KHOU studio started in Utah.
The Utah native attended Brigham Young University on a football and basketball scholarship. As quarterback for the BYU Cougars, Giff was named an All-American in 1976 by the Football Writers Association of America and was chosen by the NCAA as one of the top five scholar athletes in 1977.
He graduated from BYU in 1977 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and was drafted by the Houston Oilers the following year. He played quarterback for the team for six years during the "Luv Ya Blue" era under Coach Bum Phillips. Nielsen called Bum to give him the news.
"That was a special phone call to me because he is the one that brought me to Houston," Nielsen said. "The same lesson I learned from Bum and the "Luv Ya Blue" connection with Houston fans, has been learned once again. In this case, from a television station and a community working together to create a common bond of closeness that will live forever in my heart."
Among his many accolades, Nielsen has been inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame, the Utah Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2003, he received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes student-athletes on their 25th anniversary as college graduates.
Equally as impressive as his career and athletic accomplishments is Nielsen's commitment to the community. Over the years, he has helped raise money for countless charities and organizations. Among those endeavors is an annual golf tournament benefiting local children’s charities that has raised more than $5 million since its inception in 1986. The 23rd Annual Giff Nielsen – The Redstone Companies Day of Golf for Kids will be held this year on April 6 and will benefit the YMCA of Greater Houston, the First Tee program and WON Heart Foundation, an organization created by Giff and his wife Wendy in 2006.
Nielsen and his wife Wendy have six children and nine grandchildren. KHOU.com has launched a special page, “Farewell to Giff Nielsen” that includes a photo gallery, an interactive timeline, community and career accomplishments and more. There is also a section for viewers to leave comments to Giff.