(RepublicanView.org) – Football great Frank Ryan, who led the Cleveland Browns as a quarterback to a championship, died on January 1 at the age of 87.
Ryan fought Alzheimer’s disease for several years. He eventually succumbed to complications while receiving care at a Connecticut nursing home. He was with his family at the time of his death.
Several relatives of Ryan’s also said that the NFL legend probably suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) stemming from his football career. It was believed to contribute to his Alzheimer’s complications. The disease is often the result of several head injuries sustained over time.
It often afflicts professional football players due to the nature of the game. Ryan decided that he would donate his brain to the CTE Center at Boston University to improve research and treatment for CTE. His hope was that researchers could help give future athletes a brighter future free from the degenerative condition.
Ryan began playing football while taking classes at Rice University. He stood out as an exceptional quarterback and he was drafted to the Los Angeles Rams in 1958. He spent four years with the team before transferring to the Cleveland Browns.
His performance seemed to reach its peak while he was playing for the Browns. His tenure with the team included three Pro Bowl nods and a nomination to the United Press International MVP. That honor came in 1965, 7 years after beginning his career with the NFL.
He was awarded an NFL championship in 1964 while playing against Johnny Unitas with the Baltimore Colts. He successfully passed 25 touchdowns and achieved 2404 passing yards. He threw another 18 touchdowns the following year and broke his personal record in 1966 with 29 touchdowns. He remains one of the most successful quarterbacks in the team’s history.
However, he also suffered multiple injuries and eventually transferred to the Washington Redskins as a reservist. He stopped playing football shortly after and pursued a Ph.D. He then taught math at a few different universities after completing his coursework.
Ryan is survived by Joan, his wife of over 65 years, and four sons.
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