Mike McCormack, a Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns, passed away Friday morning. He was 83 years old.
“The Cleveland Browns were saddened to learn of the passing of Mike McCormack,” the team said in a release. “His contributions to our history are profound, not only on an individual level, but also, with regard to the tremendous success we enjoyed as a team during his career. Both the Browns and the NFL are most fortunate to have shared part of his amazing life. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Ann, and his family.”
Following a career that included two league championships and five trips to the Pro Bowl (1957-58, 1961-63), McCormack went on to become the interim head coach, and later, the president and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. He also helped bring the Panthers organization to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1995.
Although he last played for the Browns in 1963, McCormack’s roots ran deep with orange and brown.
“I had a great time in Seattle, but when it comes down to it, most of my loyalties would be with the Browns,” McCormack told ClevelandBrowns.com in 2011. “That’s where I was raised, traded for while I was in the service and had some success. Plus, I think most of us really enjoyed playing football. I would’ve liked to have played forever, but I know that’s impossible. Playing for the Browns would swing most of my emotions toward the Browns.”
McCormack started his career with the New York Yanks in 1951, but was drafted into the United States Army and was away from the game for three years. Upon his return, the Yanks had moved camp down to Dallas, Texas, and became wards of the league when the owners gave up the team.
After the Yanks eventually became the Baltimore Colts, McCormack was traded to the Browns. During his career in Cleveland, McCormack blocked for Jim Brown’s four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 1958-61. He also helped protect Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham, as well as Tom O’Connell, Milt Plum and Frank Ryan.
“We had good personnel; I came up with the remnants of one of the best teams for over a decade,” McCormack said. “It was a very, very enjoyable experience playing with the Browns because we won. We just liked each other. We had good times. We got together socially. It was just a very close-knit team.”
In addition to being talented and a close-knit team, they were a well-respected group of players. McCormack played with eight of the 14 other Browns players in the Hall of Fame and was under the direction of Hall of Fame coach, Paul Brown.
McCormack lined up with Brown, defensive end Len Ford, center Frank Gatski, Graham, kicker/tackle Lou Groza, offensive lineman Gene Hickerson, end Dante Lavelli and wide receiver/halfback Bobby Mitchell.
McCormack earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
“It was a great honor, it really was, one that I value very much,” McCormack said of his Hall of Fame induction. “I think there are a lot of guys who should be in and I’m glad Gene Hickerson got in finally (in 2007). It’s a great group and was a great honor for me to be selected.”