Dick Modzelewski, a College Football Hall of Famer, was a New York Giants for eight seasons, helping them win the 1956 NFL championship.
Former NFL defensive tackle Dick Modzelewski, who spent a majority of his NFL career with the New York Giants, passed away on Friday. He was 87.
The team announced Modzelewski’s passing in a statement written by Giants.com’s Michael Eisen. Modzelewski passed away in his home in Eastlake, Ohio. The cause of his death was not disclosed.
A 14-year NFL veteran, Modzelewski spent eight seasons of his career with the Giants. He originally entered the league as a second-round pick of the Washington Redskins in 1953, spending two seasons with the team before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After a single season, a flurry of trades sent him to Detroit, and later to New York. Though one of the more reserved linemen on the Giants’ defensive unit, he remained a fearsome prescience. He would help the Giants secure their fourth NFL championship in 1956, the first of two personal titles as they defeated the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium.
Overall, he appeared in six NFL Championship Games with the Giants, including the famous 1958 game against the Baltimore Colts, often referred to by football historians as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” Modzelewski has a sack in the 23-17 loss.
Traded to the Cleveland Browns in 1964, Modzelewski not only won his second NFL championship but was also invited to that season’s Pro Bowl, held in Los Angeles. He spent two more seasons in Cleveland before retiring in 1966.
Modzelewski was known for his uncanny durability, never missing a game over his career, which consisted of 12 and 14 game seasons.
Prior to his NFL entry, he had made a name for himself at the University of Maryland, earning All-American honors twice as well as the 1952 Outland Trophy, annually awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
In addition to his Pro Bowl nod, Modzelewski’s professional accolades include All-Pro honors in 1957 and 1961. His eight appearances in an NFL championship game, tied with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, are second only to Lou Groza’s nine.
After his retirement, Modzelewski spent over two decades in the NFL as a coach, including a brief return to New York in 1978, serving as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. He served as the interim head coach of the Browns in the 1977 season finale, taking over for the fired Forrest Gregg in a 20-19 loss to Seattle.
Modzelewski is survived by his wife Dorothy, children Mark, Laurie, Terry, and Amie, and sisters Florence and Betty.