Cleveland Browns great Dick Schafrath passed away Sunday night at the age of 84.
A second-round selection by the Browns in the 1959 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Schafrath would go on to play his entire 13-year NFL career in Cleveland, leading the way at left tackle for Hall of Fame running backs Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly.
“The Cleveland Browns were saddened to learn of the passing of Dick Schafrath. He was a Cleveland Brown and Ohioan to his core. Schafrath’s unmatched work ethic helped establish what it means to be a Cleveland Brown. He was one of the most decorated offensive linemen in team history, earning numerous Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. He also helped the Browns capture the 1964 NFL Championship and opened holes for three Hall of Fame runners. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”
Schafrath took over for Hall of Fame left tackle Lou Groza in 1960 and held the starting job into the 1971 season, eventually starting 158 of his 176 career games at the position. He was a four-time All-Pro selection, earned six trips to the Pro Bowl, and was elected into the Browns Legends Club in 2003.
In Terry Pluto’s 1997 book, When All the World was Browns Town, Schafrath talked about what it was like playing for the Browns in the 1960s:
“I loved the contact. When I played in high school, we had leather helmets and no face masks. I loved left tackle because it was the toughest position on the offensive line. Because the quarterback is usually right-handed, the man rushing from his left comes from the blind side. For that reason, the left tackle has to hold his block or the quarterback will get killed.
“The night before games, Jimmy Brown, John Wooten, and myself would get together in a room and we’d go over the plays, figuring which ones would be our ‘Attitude Plays,’ the plays we really believed would work. Then we’d tell (head coach) Blanton Collier and (quarterback) Frank Ryan which running plays would be the most effective against the team we faced that week. It a key part of the game, he’d ask Jimmy Brown or myself what plays we wanted to try.”
Schafrath turned over the starting job at left tackle to Doug Dieken during the 1971 season, when he started nine of the 14 games, and retired after the season.
In retirement, Schafrath served in the Ohio Senate from 1987 until he retired in 2000.