On Jan. 1, 2024, former NFL quarterback Frank Ryan died at age 87 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Many of today’s football fans may not remember him or know a ton about him, but in the 1960s, he was one of the league’s better QBs, and he was the leader of the Cleveland Browns the last time they were the class of the NFL.
The Browns franchise made an announcement about Ryan’s passing on their official Twitter account.
Our hearts are with the family and friends of Frank Ryan, as we honor the life of a Browns icon and championship-winning quarterback.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 2, 2024
While some fans reacted with indifference, others felt some sadness.
Prayers for His Family
— James Planck (@JamesPlanc34100) January 2, 2024
Truly a Browns legend.
— Ryan Nazette (@RNazette) January 2, 2024
Ryan’s death came just eight months after the death of legendary running back Jim Brown.
I really hate to say it, but we lose 2 players from the last championship won by this franchise. Are the stars really aligning for us to win it all.
— ❌️att S (@Matt_Bud6) January 2, 2024
Positive reactions even came from fans of arguably the Browns’ most hated rivals — the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A championship winning QB for the browns? One of a kind
— MVPICKETT⚫️🟡 (@tjwatt4mvp) January 2, 2024
Ryan was originally a fifth-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1958, and he spent his first four seasons with them.
He joined Cleveland for the 1962 campaign, and he teamed with Brown to make the team a true powerhouse.
In 1964, he got his first Pro Bowl nod by throwing for 2,404 yards and an NFL-high 25 touchdowns, and he helped lead the Browns to the 1964 NFL championship over the Baltimore Colts.
However, in the Pro Bowl contest, he sustained a serious shoulder injury, but he still managed to earn another trip to the Pro Bowl the following season despite completing only 49.0 percent of his pass attempts.
Ryan led the league in passing touchdowns again in 1966, and after leaving Cleveland following the 1968 season, he spent his final two years with the Washington Redskins.
After retiring in 1971, he had a successful second career in mathematics and computer science, which he started during his time in the NFL by becoming an assistant professor at the Case Institute of Technology.