Frank Ryan, the last quarterback for the Browns to win a title, has died at the age of 87.
Frank Ryan, the last quarterback for the Browns to win a title, has died at the age of 87.

The last quarterback to lead the Cleveland Browns to an NFL title, Frank Ryan, died on Monday, the team said. He had been alive for 87 years.

Ryan is said to have died in a care home in Waterford, Connecticut, of Alzheimer’s disease.

A statement from the Browns said that Ryan’s family thought chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) played a part in how his Alzheimer’s got worse and that he “strongly warned those closest to him about the concussion and other injury risks associated with football.” His brain will be given to the CTE Center at Boston University so that it can be studied further.

Ryan was the quarterback for the Browns when they beat the Baltimore Colts 27–0 in the NFL championship game in 1964. That was the second-to-last season before the Super Bowl era began.

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Ryan completed 11 out of 18 passes against Johnny Unitas, gaining 206 yards, three scores, and one interception. Jim Brown, who passed away last year, gained 114 yards on the ground and 37 yards in the air. Wide receiver Gary Collins was named the game’s most valuable player (MVP) because he caught all three of Ryan’s scores and gained 130 yards.

Ryan had 25 scores as a quarterback that year, which was the most in the NFL. He also had a 52–22–2 record as a starter in seven seasons with Cleveland. He joined the team in 1962 after asking the Los Angeles Rams to move him. The Rams picked him up in the fifth round of the 1958 draft out of Rice and used him as a backup quarterback for four years.

Ryan finished his career with two seasons in Washington, D.C. He retired in 1971.

The most interesting thing about Ryan’s sports career, though, was what he did in his spare time.

According to Rice, Ryan studied nuclear physics and worked on his PhD in mathematics while he was not playing. Ryan became an assistant professor at Cleveland’s Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) in 1967, while he was still playing in the NFL. He taught advanced math courses.

During his time at Case, he also learned how to program computers, which he then used at Washington to put together advanced team data.

Ryan worked for the U.S. House of Representatives as director of information services after he retired. He led the way in making the first computerized voting system for the house. In 1978, he went to Yale to work as both an athletic director and a math lecturer. In 1990, he came back to Rice to become vice president of external relations and a professor of computational and applied mathematics.

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