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Former Browns legend Frank Ryan has died at the age of 87

Ryan led the Browns to an NFL title in 1964


Former Browns QB Frank Ryan has died at the age of 87.

Ryan's family shared of his passing on New Year's Day. He had battled with Alzheimer's disease throughout a portion of his life.

Ryan was traded to Cleveland in 1962 and played seven years with the Browns. He was first acquired as a backup to starting quarterback Jim Ninowski, but then moved into the starting role after Ninowski suffered an injury during the 1962 season.

Ryan stayed the Browns' starting quarterback for the 1963 season, and threw for 2,026 yards and 25 touchdowns, and led the Browns to a 10-4 record that season. Then, in 1964, Ryan led the Browns to their fourth NFL championship in team history after the beat the Baltimore Colts 27-0.

Over his seven seasons, Ryan had a 52-22 record and threw for 13,361 yards for 134 touchdowns and 88 interceptions. He was also the last quarterback to lead the Browns to their most recent NFL title in 1964. He was a 3x Pro Bowler from 1964-66, as well as the NFL passing touchdowns leader in 1964.

Ryan's family provided the following statement:

NFL quarterback and Cleveland Browns Legend Frank Ryan has passed away due to the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is suspected to have played a role in the progression of the disease. Frank played 13 seasons in the National Football League from 1958 to 1970 and he led the Browns to their last NFL Championship victory in 1964, throwing 3 touchdown passes in a 27-0 win over the Baltimore Colts. He was elected to the NFL Pro Bowl 3 times from 1964 – 1966, and he was inducted as a Cleveland Browns Legend in 2005. Frank also played for the Los Angeles Rams and the Washington Redskins during his career. As a quarterback, Frank amassed many impressive team victories and career statistics, all the while earning a PhD in Mathematics from Rice University in 1965 that would lead to career accomplishments beyond the NFL.

After retiring from professional football in 1970, Frank spent 7 years as the Director of House Information Systems for the United States House of Representatives, where he directed the development of the first computerized voting system used by the US Congress. In 1977 Frank was appointed the Athletic Director at Yale University, a post that he held for 10 years. After Yale, Frank served his alma mater Rice University as a Vice President for Institutional Planning. And throughout his varied career, Frank taught Mathematics at the undergraduate and graduate level, starting with Case Western Reserve, then Yale and then Rice. Upon his retirement to Vermont, Frank continued his lifelong study of math's great unsolved problems.

Frank assigned just as much, if not more, importance to academic achievement as he did to athletic achievement and later in life, he emphatically warned those closest to him about the concussion and other injury risks associated with football. Like many of his teammates and friends before him, Frank has donated his brain to the Boston University CTE Center so that future football players and their families, as well as society in general, can better understand the effects of repetitive brain trauma on the human nervous system.

Throughout his life, Frank received thousands of autograph requests from fans of all ages and backgrounds from across the country. He appreciated his fans enormously, and he kept every fan letter that he received. Frank fulfilled each and every autograph request that was sent to him, until he became physically unable to do so.

Frank and his wife Joan marked their 65th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Frank had a large and loving family that gave him joy and happiness throughout his life, and his family was with him at the end.