CLEVELAND — Dick Schafrath, a standout offensive tackle from the 1964 Browns championship team and 1957 Ohio State national championship team, has died at the age of 84, the Browns announced Monday.
Schafrath died Sunday night.
"The Cleveland Browns were saddened to learn of the passing of Dick Schafrath," the Browns said in a team statement. "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."
When Schafrath joined the Browns in 1959, head coach Paul Brown declared him a starter at left tackle the minute he was drafted in the second round from Ohio State. Remarkably, he served in the Air Force while playing for the Browns. He played 13 seasons with the franchise.
Schafrath was a four-time All-Pro and earned six Pro Bowl nominations. His nickname "The Mule" was acquired from his hard work, dedication and blocking abilities that helped the dominant run game of Hall of Fame running backs Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly.
Schafrath is considered one of the greatest offensive lineman in history not inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a first-team All-Pro four times in his career.
Browns fan Mark Leonard made the case for Schafrath last year when he wrote in Sports Illustrated:
"As a left tackle, Schafrath protected the blind sides of quarterbacks, helped open holes for Hall-of-Famers Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly and was so good at both that he was named the team’s 1963 MVP," Leonard said. "The man has been overlooked, under-appreciated and ignored for too long."
Schafrath was elected into the Browns Legends Club in 2003.
"I played behind Dick for one season, and he was just a pleasure to be around," said Browns veteran Doug Dieken. "Not a lot of guys would have taken me under their wing the way he did. He was a great player. His credentials merit the Hall of Fame, but he was also a first class person."
After football, Schafrath served in the Ohio Senate, winning a seat in 1986. He served in the Ohio Senate until his retirement from politics in 2003.
Gov. Mike DeWine issued the following statement in regards to Schafrath's death:
Fran and I are saddened to hear of the death of our friend, former Ohio State Senator Dick Schafrath. Before his political career, Dick had one of the great football careers in Ohio history. He was captain for the Ohio State Buckeyes under Woody Hayes and won a national championship there. Dick later blocked for Jim Brown on the Cleveland Browns 1964 NFL Championship team and was elected a member of the Cleveland Browns Legends Club. Dick later served four terms in the Ohio Senate representing the North Central Ohio area. Dick’s service in the Ohio Senate was marked by his passion for helping children, and he cared deeply about their education and well-being. Fran and I extend our deepest condolences to Dick’s family and loved ones.
In 2014, News 5 caught up with Schafrath when he underwent deep brain stimulation at the Cleveland Clinic to treat tremors.
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