Fort Worth native Frank Ryan, who is the last quarterback to win a title with the Cleveland Browns, died on Monday. He was 87.
Ryan was born in 1936 and played football at R. L. Paschal High School where he was recruited by legendary coach Bear Bryant. Following his graduation from high school, Ryan became the first member of his family to not attend Yale University when he enrolled at Rice University.
In 1958 Ryan was surprised when he was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. He had been preparing to give up the sport to pursue his doctorate but decided to pursue both by attending UCLA before transferring to Rice.
Ryan’s first four years were spent with the Rams without much fanfare until he was traded to the Browns and promoted to starting quarterback after Jim Ninowski broke his collarbone in 1962.
1964 would be a special year for Ryan as he would win the NFL Championship with the Browns and receive his doctorate from Rice within six months of each other. That championship would be the last major title by a Cleveland sports team until LeBron James and the Cavs upset the Golden State Warriors for the NBA title in 2016.
Over his 13-year NFL career, Ryan passed for 16,042 yards and 149 TDs while going 57-27-3 as a starter.
Ryan’s accomplishments were also prolific off the field with him becoming a mathematics lecturer and athletic director at Yale University while also playing a crucial part in helping to modernize the U.S. House of Representatives voting system in 1971.
Ryan is survived by his wife Joan with whom he was married for 65 years.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.