4. Frank Ryan
Fans of the Cleveland Browns haven’t known a championship winning quarterback since Frank Ryan quarterbacked the 1964 squad to the NFL title.
Ryan continued to bring excellence to the position that had been established by Otto Graham with the franchise’s inception in 1946. From 1962-1968, Ryan amassed a 52-22-2 record.
Ryan might’ve been the smartest man to ever play quarterback for the Browns. He would go on to be a math professor, but his 134 touchdowns are third all-time in Browns’ history. Ryan threw 18 more touchdowns than Bernie Kosar, despite playing in 24 fewer games.
Ryan was originally a fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams. He started a handful of games during his first few seasons in the league, and had a 5-5-1 record as a starter at the time he came to Cleveland in 1962.
After Milt Plum was traded following the 1962 season, Ryan took over as starter. He was under center for five seasons, with his crowning achievement coming during the 1964 championship game, when he engineered a victory over Don Shula‘s heavily favored Baltimore Colts.
In that contest, Ryan was excellent, completing 11-of-18 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns against one interception. One of the game’s all-time greats, Johnny Unitas, threw for just 92 yards and two interceptions in opposition. Unitas will forever be a legend, but on Dec. 27, 1964, Ryan the best.
During the early part off his career, Ryan kept up with his education and earned his Ph.D. from Rice University in 1965. When the Browns were in training camp back in the 1960s, Ryan would teach math at Case Western Reserve in the morning, and would practice with the Browns in the afternoon.
Dr. Quarterback. An academic off the field, and winner on it.
Next: Milt Plum