Link to story: http://espn.go.com/classic/obit/s/20...7/1688946.html
Otto Graham, former Cleveland Browns, died today of the same heart problem that claimed actor John Ritter just months earlier. Hall-of-Famer Graham won a championship title in all 7 years he played, 4 in the All-American Football League and 3 NFL titles. Averaging 3,369 passing yards a season and 25 TD's, he finished with an outstanding 105-17-4 regular-season record.
However, because he did not play an extended career and didn't play in the Super-Bowl era, he is often forgotten behind other greats. "Automatic Otto" never missed a game as a pro, on his way to winning 3 NFL titles under coach Paul Brown, for whom the team is named after.
Graham was inducted into the hall-of-fame in 1965, and was named to the NFL's 75ht anniversary team in 1994 along with Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Montana.
Graham made history as the first player to wear a face mask after being viciously elbowed in the face on a late hit by San Francisco linebacker Art Michalik on Nov. 15, 1953, at old Cleveland Stadium. Graham returned with plastic wrapped around his helmet to protect his mouth.
"That was my real claim to fame right there," Graham said. "I had this big gash on my mouth and they gave me 15 stitches, but I wanted to play."
After returning, Graham completed 9 of 10 passes in the second half to lead Cleveland to a 23-20 comeback victory.
Graham excelled at the piano, violin, cornet and became Illinois state champion in the French horn at age 16, also leading his basketball conference in scoring. He went to Northwestern college on a basketball scholarship, and was noticed by a coach while playing intramural football. He finished 3rd in Heisman voting in 1943.
R.I.P. Otto Graham 1921-2003 "Truly one of the greats."