Dick Schafrath passes away, leaves lasting legacy on and off the field (8.16.21)
For Immediate Release
Aug. 16, 2021
Schafrath was a four-time All-Pro, earned six Pro Bowl nominations and helped block for three Hall of Fame running backs
By Andrew Gribble, ClevelandBrowns.com Senior Staff Writer
The Browns and the NFL are mourning the passing of longtime offensive tackle Dick Schafrath.
Schafrath, a Browns Legend who was one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history and embarked on a successful political career after his playing days, passed away Sunday night. He was 84.
“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.”
Schafrath, who was born in Wooster and attended Ohio State, was drafted by the Browns in the second round of the 1959 NFL Draft by legendary head coach Paul Brown. He immediately became a cornerstone player of the offensive line and spent all 13 of his NFL seasons in Cleveland, helping the Browns win their fourth NFL Championship in franchise history in 1964.
He was a four-time All-Pro, earned six Pro Bowl nominations and helped block for three Hall of Fame running backs — Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly. Schafrath’s work ethic and determination earned him the nickname “The Mule” from his teammates.
“I played behind Dick for one season and he was just a pleasure to be around,” said Doug Dieken, a 14-year Browns veteran from 1971-1984. “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.”
Schafrath is regarded as one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history. He was elected into the Browns Legends Club in 2003.
“Right after I was drafted, I learned about the rich history of the left tackle position for the Cleveland Browns,” said Joe Thomas, a 10-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro Browns lineman from 2007-2017. “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 am truly saddened to hear of his passing.”
Four years after his retirement, Schafrath joined the coaching staff of George Allen of the Washington Redskins as an offensive line coach, a position he held until 1977. In 1986, Schafrath began a political career and won a seat in the Ohio State Senate. He continued serving in the Ohio Senate until his retirement from politics in 2003.