Who is the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear No 77?
The countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 77 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 77: Dick Schafrath.
Dick Schafrath was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 1959 NFL draft out the Ohio State University. While at OSU Schafrath played both ways, offensive tackle, and defensive end, under the demanding guidance of legendary coach Woody Hayes. Schafrath was a two-way starter for the 1957 Buckeyes, winning a national championship.
Schafrath left college early during his senior year to enter the draft in 1959. It was a surprising move considering he was a team captain during his junior year. He arrived in Cleveland weighing 220lbs and needed to bulk up before beginning the rigors of playing offensive line in the NFL. Schafrath began serious weight training and eating anything you would put in front of him. By the start of the 1960 season, Schafrath showed up to Browns training camp at over 260lbs.
A day one starter at left tackle, Schafrath made an immediate impact on the Browns running game. He was exactly the kind of lineman head coach Paul Brown was looking for. Schafrath was an athletic hard worker who could show a mean streak when he needed to while staying disciplined and level-headed.
In 1963, Schafrath entered into his prime as an NFL player and was able to remain there for a remarkable seven straight years. That year Schafrath, or ‘The Mule’ as he was known by teammates, was named to his first All-Pro team as well as the Pro Bowl and was named the Browns Most Valuable Player. It would be the last time the Browns named a team MVP, so in effect, Schafrath is still the reigning team MVP.
The 1964 season brought more All-Pro and Pro Bowl accolades, but it added a title he considered more illustrious, NFL Champion. As Browns’ fans know all too well, 1964 was the last time the Browns were able to climb the mountain top and be the last team standing. Schafrath was a key contributor to that, blocking for Jim Brown and protecting Frank Ryan’s blindside.
Schafrath would go on to collect more accolades in his playing career being named All-Pro four times and earning six Pro Bowl nominations. ‘The Mule’ was named to the Browns Legends Program in 2003. He blocked for three different hall of fame running backs in his twelve years as the Browns starting left tackle. He is the only left tackle in NFL history that can make that claim.
We would be remised if we didn’t touch on some of the off-field legendary activities of ‘The Mule’. Schafrath entered eating contests to gain weight to prepare his body for the NFL. He wrestled a bear once, no word on if the bear survived though. ‘The Mule’ ran 66 miles from Cleveland Browns Stadium to his hometown (Wooster high school stadium) because some people said he couldn’t. Then he canoed 78 miles across Lake Erie despite his fear of water.
To top it off, he ran for Ohio State Senate and won. He retired from the Senate after his 17-year term limit was up. Then he decided to return to the Ohio State University to finish his degree and graduated with his diploma at the age of 69.
Dick Schafrath is a legendary human being and the best player to ever wear number 77 for the Cleveland Browns.
Honarable Mention: Lyle Alzado.