Erich Barnes, star Giants defender of the 1960s, dies at 86

Erich Barnes, the strong and quick cornerback who helped propel the Giants to three consecutive NFL championship games in the early 1960s, died Friday in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. He was 86 years old.

Her death, in hospital, was announced by the Giants, who said she came after a long illness but did not provide further details.

Playing for 14 seasons – three with the Chicago Bears, four with the Giants and seven with the Cleveland Browns – Barnes was often paired with the league’s best wide receivers.

In his career he has intercepted 45 passes and ran seven for touchdowns. He tied an NFL record for longest interception return to a touchdown when he took a pass from the Dallas Cowboys Eddie LeBaron in an October 1961 game and ran 102 yards for a score.

At 6 feet 2 inches 200 pounds, Barnes was a good size to be a cornerback of his time.

“I was like a dictator or an intimidator,” he told the website scout.com in 2008. “I kept the receivers off guard. I never let them pick up a rhythm. I always wanted the receiver to go where I wanted it to go. “

Barnes was voted Pro Bowl with the Bears in 1959, with the Giants every season from 1961 to 1964 and with the Browns in 1968. He was selected as the first team’s All-Pro in 1961 when he intercepted seven passes, returning two for scores.

“Barnes was tall and thin, and he had a bit of nastiness about him,” the famous and sturdy center linebacker of the Giants Sam Huff remembered in “Tough Stuff: The Man in the Middle” (1988), written with Leonard Shapiro. “If you catch a ball in front of Erich Barnes, he’ll make you pay for it. And when you’ve caught something near the sideline, you’d better get off the pitch because Erich would chase you.”

Erich (pronounced EE-rich) Theodore Barnes was born on July 4, 1935 in Elkhart, Indiana. His father, Sylvester, was a real estate investor; his mother, Lura, was a housewife.

Erich grew up as a Browns fan. Recruited by Purdue, he played as a midfielder in attack and defense and was also a catcher. He was chosen by the Bears in the fourth round of the 1958 NFL Draft.

Barnes joined the Giants in 1961 via a three-way swap in which they sent cornerback Lindon Crow to the Los Angeles Rams.

trained by Allie Shermanthe Giants won the Eastern Conference title from 1961 to 1963 but lost each year in the NFL championship game, twice to the Green Bay Packers and then to the Bears.

The Giants teams of that era, characterized Andy Robustelli, Dick ModzelewskiRoosevelt Grier e Jim Katcavage on the line, Huff to the linebacker, Barnes and Dick Lynch at the cornerback e Jim Patton confidently, he made defensive play a fascinating part of professional football. quarterback YA Titleobtained by the San Francisco 49ers, he became a New York celebrity with his brilliant passing.

Barnes intercepted 18 passes while playing for the Giants, and his block of a Packer punt in the 1962 NFL championship game led to an end-zone comeback by Jim Collier, giving the Giants their only touchdown in a loss. for 16-7.

One of Barnes’ most spectacular comedies came when the Giants played the Philadelphia Eagles at Yankee Stadium in November 1961.

Pete Previte, a clubhouse attendant, suggested to the Giant’s coaches that when the time was right for a long pass, they trained some of the fastest players who weren’t normally used on offense.

Towards the end of the first half, Sherman entered Barnes and Patton as slot receivers, replacing two running backs, keeping his regular pass receivers, the flanker Kyle Red and it ends Of the Shofner Other Joe Walton, in the game. All five headed down and Tittle threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Barnes. The Giants won the game, 38-21.

After the three championship seasons of the Giants conference, the team’s core began to leave for exchanges or retirements.

After scoring 2-10-2 in 1964, the Giants handed Barnes to the Browns in August 1965. He played for Cleveland teams that went to three NFL championship games and lost every time, just as his Giants did.

Barnes retired after the 1971 season and became a special events planner for businesses in the New York area.

His wife, Violet Ward Barnes, survives; his daughters, Charissa Barnes-Johnson, Djuna Barnes and Tessa Robinson; his sisters, Joan Murkey and Linda Turner; three grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. He had homes in Yonkers, NY, and Joliet, Ill.

Barnes was a heady player, despite his reputation for successes that sometimes went over the edge. Sports Illustrated once quoted him as saying that “when I was with the Giants and I came to Cleveland, they called me dirty”, but that after he was sold to the Browns, “the Giants called me dirty and Cleveland would call me aggressive”.

As he said, “It all depends on where you were playing.”