Dick Schafrath

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel Dick Schafrath with the North Central Workforce Alliance Community Service Award on Thursday at Ashland University in 2015. (Richland Source file photo)

COLUMBUS -- Dick Schafrath packed a lot of life in 84 years.

He was a national champion during the 1957 season at Ohio State, where he was also captain of the football Buckeyes. He was an All-Pro lineman for the Cleveland Browns, where he won an NFL title. After that he was an Ashland County business owner, a politician and an author.

Schafrath, born on March 21, 1937, died Sunday night in his hometown of Wooster.

An offensive tackle and defensive end at OSU for legendary coach Woody Hayes, Schafrath played on Ohio State's 1958 Rose Bowl team, serving as team captain in his senior year.

The NFL beckoned and Schafrath, who graduated from Wooster High School, didn't have to travel far, selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round. He was drafted by another legendary coach, Paul Brown, Schafrath spent the next 13 seasons in the orange and brown.

The sturdy 6-foot-3 Schafrath, who bulked up to 260 pounds for the Browns and played left tackle, missed just two games between 1959 and 1971 and was All-Pro four times while earning seven Pro Bowl selections.

In 1964, Schafrath helped lead the Browns to an NFL championship. He also paved the way for three Hall of Fame running backs during his career -- Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly.

The 1964 title, which is the last league title to this point for the Browns, came with an 11-3-1 record, including a 27-0 win over the Baltimore Colts in the NFL championship game.

The Browns issued a statement after news of Schafrath's death was announced by his family.

"The Cleveland Browns were saddened to learn of the passing of Dick Schafrath," the Browns. "He was a Cleveland Brown and Ohioan to his core.

"Schafrath's unmatched work ethic helped establish what it means to be a Cleveland Brown. He was one of the most decorated offensive linemen in team history, earning numerous Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. He also helped the Browns capture the 1964 NFL Championship and opened holes for three Hall of Fame runners. We send our deepest condolences to his family," the Browns said.

Schafrath, who was inducted into the Browns Legends Club in 2003, worked as an offensive line coach for the Washington Redskins under coach George Allen until 1977.

He became a businessman and one of his interests was a canoe livery in the Loudonville area. He also demonstrated an interest in politics. In 1984, Schafrath was recruited by President Ronald Reagan to coordinate and organize "Athletes for Reagan-Bush '84" in which celebrity athletes appeared at fundraisers and other functions in a re-election campaign effort.

Schafrath entered the political arena himself in 1986, winning a seat in the Ohio State Senate, representing north central Ohio at that time from the 17th District. He continued serving in the Ohio Senate until his retirement from politics in 2003.

In 2006, Schafrath authored the book, "Heart of a Mule," a biography that described his early years on the farm, his life in football and his career in business and politics.

In 2015, during a ceremony at Ashland University, an emotional Schafrath emphasized the impact Ohio had on his life, and how important the state’s future is to him.

He also touted the value of a hard work ethic, which he learned firsthand playing football under coaching greats such as Hayes and Brown and earned him the nickname “The Mule.”

“Thank God I had a father who loved to work,” said Schafrath. “Today America is too lenient with children, they’re scared to see them out working and sweating and working for someone who demands a lot out of them.

"What you’re doing (at the workforce summit) today is the most gratifying thing I can think of for kids.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also offered condolences in a statement on Monday.

“Fran and I are saddened to hear of the death of our friend, former Ohio State Senator Dick Schafrath. Before his political career, Dick had one of the great football careers in Ohio history. He was captain for the Ohio State Buckeyes under Woody Hayes and won a national championship there. Dick later blocked for Jim Brown on the Cleveland Browns 1964 NFL Championship team and was elected a member of the Cleveland Browns Legends Club.

"Dick later served four terms in the Ohio Senate representing the north central Ohio area. Dick’s service in the Ohio Senate was marked by his passion for helping children, and he cared deeply about their education and well-being. Fran and I extend our deepest condolences to Dick’s family and loved ones," DeWine said.

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