Mike McCormack, NFL Hall of Famer, dies at 83


Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike McCormack claps his hands while shouting encouragement to his players during an NFL football game in 1982. (Dave Ekren/AP)

Mike McCormack, a Hall of Fame lineman with the Cleveland Browns who later coached and held executive positions with several National Football League teams, died Nov. 15 at a hospice near his home in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 83.

Carolina Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton confirmed the death. Mr. McCormack reportedly had a heart ailment.

He spent 12 seasons with the Browns and helped the franchise win NFL championships in 1954 and 1955. Mr. McCormack, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984, blocked for such giants of the era as quarterback Otto Graham and running back Jim Brown.

Mr. McCormack was instrumental in helping the Panthers land an NFL franchise in Charlotte in 1993 and was the first person selected for the team’s Hall of Honor.

“It is safe to say that we would probably not have a team in the Carolinas if it were not for Mike McCormack,” Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said in a statement. “He had the contacts in the National Football League and was universally respected by everyone associated with professional football.”

Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Mike McCormack in 1959. (NFL Photos/AP)

Michael Joseph McCormack was born June 21, 1930, in Chicago and played football at the University of Kansas. He first played in the NFL in 1951 with the old New York Yanks, served two years in the Army and then was traded to the Browns before the 1954 season.

The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Mr. McCormack played middle guard on the Browns’ defense in his first season in Cleveland. In a key play in the 1954 NFL championship game, he stole the ball from Detroit quarterback Bobby Layne, leading to a Cleveland touchdown. The Browns won the title, 56-10.

The next year, Mr. McCormack switched to offensive right tackle, and the Browns again won the championship, beating the Los Angeles Rams in the title game.

After Jim Brown, a fullback, joined the team in 1957, Mr. McCormack helped clear the way for one of the most dominant runners in NFL history. Mr. McCormack retired as a player in 1962.

At his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1984, his coach, Paul Brown, called Mr. McCormack “the finest offensive lineman I have ever coached.”

In 1994, USA Today named Mr. McCormack to its 75th anniversary all-NFL team, listing him as one of the three best tackles in league history.

Mr. McCormack began his coaching career as an assistant with the Washington Redskins. He worked under head coaches Vince Lombardi and George Allen, among others, in Washington between 1965 and 1972.

As head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (1973-75), Baltimore Colts (1980-81) and Seattle Seahawks (1982), Mr. McCormack had a combined record of 29-51-1.

He later served as president and general manager of the Seahawks and for two years was president of the Panthers.

— News services and staff reports

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