Dick Modzelewski, a star defensive tackle who appeared in eight NFL titles game with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns during the 1950s and ’60s, has died. He was 87.
He died Friday at his home in Eastlake, Ohio, outside Cleveland, the Giants said in a statement Saturday. No cause was given.
Modzelewski spent 14 years in the NFL, eight with the Giants that included six title games. He teamed with Andy Robustelli, Rosey Grier and Jim Katcavage on one of the great defensive lines.
Modzelewski also appeared in two championship games with the Browns. He joined the NFL with Washington in 1953 and also played for Pittsburgh, never missing a game in his career.
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He coached in the NFL for 22 years, including the 1978 season as the Giants’ defensive coordinator.
Modzelewski was an All-American in 1951 and ’52 at Maryland and won the Outland Trophy in 1952 as the nation’s best lineman. It resulted in an invitation to the White House, where he had lunch with President Dwight Eisenhower. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Redskins drafted Modzelewski in the second round. He played two seasons there before his trade to the Steelers. Modzelewski was briefly reunited with brother Ed, a fullback.
After one year in Pittsburgh, Modzelewski was again traded, this time twice in less than a week. The Steelers dealt him to the Detroit Lions, who three days later sent him to the Giants for another defensive tackle, Ray Krouse, a former Maryland teammate.
Modzelewski was traded to the Browns in 1964 for wide receiver Bobby Crespino. He was expected to be a backup but became a starter when Frank Parker was injured. Cleveland played in the championship game in each of Modzelewski’s first two seasons, beating Baltimore in 1964 and then losing to Green Bay.
Modzelewski is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dorothy Jane, and four children.
A funeral is set for Oct. 26 in Mentor, Ohio.