(NationRise.com) – NFL legend Frank Ryan, who led the Cleveland Browns as a quarterback to a championship, died on January 1st at the age of 87.
Ryan spent years fighting with Alzheimer’s disease. He eventually succumbed to complications arising from the condition during a stay in a Connecticut nursing home. He was surrounded by relatives at the time of his passing.
Members of his family have said Ryan also likely suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It was believed to exacerbate his battle with Alzheimer’s. The disease is often the result of repeated head injuries and commonly plagues professional football players. Ryan agreed to donate his brain to the CTE Center at Boston University to help further studies of and treatments for CTE. His hope was that researchers could help give future athletes a brighter future free from the degenerative condition.
Ryan’s football career began at Rice University. His skills as a quarterback stood out to recruiters, and he was drafted in 1958 to the Los Angeles Rams. He spent four years with the team before transferring to the Cleveland Browns.
He achieved his best stats while playing for the Browns. That included three Pro Bowl nods and a nomination to the United Press International MVP. That honor came in 1965, seven years after his career began.
He also won 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 is still remembered as one of the best quarterbacks the Cleveland Browns ever had.
He transferred as a reserve for the Redskins three years later after multiple injuries. He ended his football career soon after to pursue his Ph.D. and taught math at a few different universities.
Ryan is survived by Joan, his wife of over 65 years, and four sons.
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