CLEVELAND – Dick Schafrath, a stellar offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns, who blocked the Hall of Fame supporting Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Bobby Mitchell before retiring and went into politics, is dead. He was 84.
The team said Schafrath died Sunday night. No cause of death was given.
“He was a Cleveland Brown and Ohioan to his core,” the Browns said in a statement Monday. “Schafrath’s unsurpassed work ethic helped determine what it means to be a Cleveland Brown … We send our deepest condolences to his family.”
We mourn the loss of Dick Schafrath, a Browns Legend who was one of the best offensive linemen in the history of our franchise.
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– Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 16, 2021
Called “The Mule” by his teammates for his determination, Schafrath was a four-time All-Pro during a career with Cleveland from 1960-71. After he stopped playing, Schafrath was assistant coach with Washington in coach George Allen’s staff before entering politics and serving as a state senator in Ohio.
Schafrath played for Ohio State before being drafted in the second round by the Browns in 1959. He was an integral part of Cleveland’s 1964 team, which shocked the much-favored Baltimore Colts 27-0 to win the title and opened holes for Brown, Kelly and Mitchell during their decorated careers.
“I played behind Dick for a season and he was just a pleasure to be around,” said former Brown tackle and TV station Doug Dieken. “Not many guys would have taken me under their wings like he did. He was a great player. His credentials deserve the Hall of Fame, but he was also a first-class person.”
Schafrath was inducted into the team’s Legends Club in 2003.
“Right after I was drafted, I learned about the rich history of left tackle position for the Cleveland Browns,” said Joe Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowler with Cleveland. “Some of the NFL’s all-time greats lined up in that spot — from Lou Groza to Dick Schafrath to Doug Dieken.
“Dick helped set the standard for left tackles in the NFL, and I’m really sorry to hear about his death.”
Richard Philip “Dick” Schafrath was born on March 21, 1937 in Wooster, Ohio.
He played football and baseball in high school and considered signing with the Cincinnati Reds before joining Ohio State and playing for legendary coach Woody Hayes.
Schafrath played offensively and defensively for the Buckeyes and helped lead them to a national championship in 1957.
After being drafted for the Browns, Schafrath enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and because of his commitment, he hardly practiced with his teammates during his first two seasons.
Schafrath was selected to seven Pro Bowls before retiring in 1971.