Just as our heroes are celebrated in life, here is a snapshot of several former Cleveland Browns who parted this earth in 2021.
OG Hal Bradley, Jr.
Location: Rome, Italy
Career: Browns 1954-1956, Philadelphia 1958
After college Bradley served three years in the Marines and played for a service football team where he was seen by a Browns coach and offered a tryout. He was on the back-to-back NFL Champions teams of 1954 and 1955. He became famous after football. He opened an art studio in Rome named Folkstudio where Bob Dylan would perform. He then landed a role in the 1961 movie Barrabas. Bradley would go on to star in over 25 Italian films.
S Neal Craig
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Career: Cincinnati 1971-1973, Buffalo 1974, Browns 1975-1976
Brewster was taken in the seventh round of the 1971 NFL draft out of Fisk College. He had eight career interceptions including a pair while with Cleveland. He was a Cincinnati native and luckily was drafted by his hometown Bengals. Leaving football, Craig made a career in sales working for Heidelberg Distributing, Con-Agra and Letica Corporation.
DE Bill Glass
Location: Waxahachie, Texas
Career: Saskatchewan (CFL) 1957, Detroit 1958-1961, Browns 1962-1968
The former defensive end played for 12 years including his best statistical years with Cleveland from 1962-1968. He retired a Brown. When Glass retired from football in 1968, he was listed as most All-Time in sacks for the Browns’ franchise. Then LB Clay Matthews broke that standing during his 16 years with Cleveland. Two researchers from the Professional Football Researchers Association spent decades going back into every single National Football League and American Football League game since 1960 to tally up new and accurate sacks stats. With the new findings, Glass now has 77.5 sacks accumulated in just 94 games while Matthews’ new totals are 75 sacks received in 232 contests.
He founded “Bill Glass Ministries” in 1969 with the focus on prisoners that were incarcerated who may not have access or guidance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a list of the 100 Greatest Browns of all-time in 2007 on cleveland.com, Glass was listed at #31. Now that Glass is Cleveland’s All-Time career sack leader, he has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
RB Chet Hanulak
Location: Salisbury, Maryland
Career: Browns 1954-1957
Chet “the Jet” Hanulak won a state championship in high school before being a college football phenom while playing for Maryland. He still remains as one of the top runners all-time for the school. Hanulak was inducted into the Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994 and ACC Legends Class of 2012. He played sparingly for the Browns in a backup role, but won an NFL title in 1954 and 1955. After football he worked for General Tire Corporation and was a member of the Elks Club.
LB Gerald Irons
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
Career: Oakland 1970-1975, Browns 1976-1979
Taken in the third round of the first-ever NFL-AFL combined draft as one league, Irons had a stellar career with the Raiders as a prototypical linebacker of the 1970’s. He was traded to the Browns for a second round pick. For his career he had 98 starts in 135 games and averaged 92 tackles a season for Cleveland. In a list of the 100 Greatest Browns of all-time in 2003 on BrownsInsider.com, Irons was listed at #91. Irons was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2013. After football he earned his law degree and was fluent in Japanese.
OT Tony Jones
Location: Suwanee, Georgia
Career: Browns 1988-1995, Baltimore 1996, Denver 1997-2000
A Western Carolina alum, the undrafted Jones was part of the Browns move to Baltimore to which the franchise became the Ravens. He played 13-years in the NFL and was the starting tackle for the Broncos for four seasons after being traded for a second round selection. Jones won two Super Bowls with Denver. He held Hall of Famer Reggie White to zero sacks in Super Bowl XXXI. Known for being well-dressed at all times, Jones was named to the Broncos Top 100 Team in 2019. He started his first game with the Browns at right guard in December of 1989. He played in the 1990 AFC Championship Game against Denver, a 37-21 defeat. In future years he would play right tackle and left tackle for Bill Belichick. Jones’ wife was a Cleveland native so the move to Baltimore stung deeply. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1998.
LB Mike Lucci
Location: Palm Beach, Florida
Career: Browns 1962-1964, Detroit 1965-1973
Lucci was involved in a three-team trade in 1965. He was traded to the Giants for CB Erich Barnes, and then almost immediately was traded from the Giants to Detroit along with OG Darrell Dess and a draft pick for QB Earl Morrall. While with the Lions, he was voted their defensive MVP three consecutive years while earning one Pro Bowl (1971). An interception of Jets QB Joe Namath resulted in Namath injuring his knee while trying to tackle Lucci. This was the beginning of Namath’s chronic knee issues. The Browns took him in the fifth round of the 1961 NFL draft while the AFL San Diego Chargers selected him in Round 20. After football Lucci did some broadcasting and was president of Bally Total Fitness in the Detroit area. He has been inducted into three sports Hall of Fames: Michigan, Pennsylvania and National Italian-American.
WR Bill “Zeke” O’Connor
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Career: Buffalo 1948, Browns 1949, Jersey City Giants (AA) 1950, New York Yanks 1951, Toronto (CFL) 1952-1953
Tall (6’-4”) and lanky, O’Conner played for the AAFC Champions Browns in 1949 after spending time in the U.S. Navy. At the time, Cleveland was stacked at the receiver position so he played sparingly including just one start. With Toronto, the 1952 squad won the Grey Cup in the very first televised championship game. After football, O’Connor worked for Sears.
WR David Patten
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Career: Albany (Arena) 1996, NY Giants 1997-1999, Browns 2000 and 2009, New England 2001-2004 and 2010, Washington 2005-2006, New Orleans 2007-2008
Patten went undrafted then played a season in the Arena League before making the Giants practice squad. Two days later he was added to the main roster as a kick returner. He signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2000 where he had 38 receptions for 546 yards. From there he played for the Patriots where he won three Super Bowls. He came back to Cleveland in 2009 but was a last day cut. Patten then became an assistant coach at Western Carolina. He passed away in a motorcycle accident.
OT Dick Schafrath
Location: Wooster, Ohio
Career: Browns 1959-1971
Schrafrath was raised in Ohio and won a national championship with Ohio State in 1957. His nickname was “the mule” because of his work ethic. The Browns selected him in the second round of the NFL draft. He came into camp 220 pounds to which head coach Paul Brown wanted him with more beef, so Schafrath became a mainstay in eating contests across the State of Ohio. He went to the Pro Bowl seven years, was named the team’s MVP in 1963 and was an integral part of the 1964 NFL Championship squad. He was added to the Cleveland Browns Legends in 2003. After football he won a seat in the Ohio State Senate until he retired in 2000.
FB Bo Scott
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Career: Ottawa (CFL) 1965-1968, Browns 1969-1974
An Ohio State alum, Scott was taken in the third round by the Browns and in Round 20 by the AFL Oakland Raiders. He opted to played in the CFL where he was named an All-Star and won the Grey Cup in 1968. After he played out his option with Ottawa, he signed with the Browns. During his tenure with Cleveland he played alongside Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green. He was the starting fullback from 1970-1972.
DB Jim Shofner
Career: Browns 1958-1963
Shofner was a first round pick of the Browns in 1958 after a sterling career at TCU. In his second season, he was named the starter. He retired prior to the 1964 NFL Championship season and went into insurance. From there, Shofner became an assistant football coach at his alma mater in 1966. That led to coaching stints with San Francisco, then the Browns QB coach from 1978-1980, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis and then he landed back in Cleveland in 1990 as the OC. When head coach Bud Carson was fired in November, Shofner was named interim head coach and finished out the 1990 season going 1-6-0. After one season as a Browns scout, he was hired by Buffalo as the QB coach to which he was on two Super Bowl losing teams. Shofner was credited with developing 13th round draft pick Brian Sipe into a viable NFL-caliber quarterback.
OT Joe Taffoni
Location: Chapin, South Carolina
Career: Browns 1967-1970, NY Giants 1972-1973
A standout at West Virginia, Taffoni was taken in the fourth round of the 1967 draft - the first common draft for both the NFL and AFL. He played his college ball at Tennessee-Martin after winning a state championship in high school. He finally earned the starting right tackle position with Cleveland in his fourth season on an offensive line that featured Gene Hickerson, Fred Hoaglin and Dick Schafrath in head coach Blanton Collier’s final year. Taffoni played in the first Monday Night Football game against the Jets. He was then traded to the Giants where he started at RT. After football he became a college coach before entering the business world working in sales. Taffoni was named to the West Virginia 1960’s All-Decade Team and inducted into the Tennessee-Martin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.