Hall of Fame lineman Mike McCormack dies at 83

USA Today called Mr. McCormack one of the three best NFL tackles ever. He coached the Eagles, Colts, and Seahawks.
USA Today called Mr. McCormack one of the three best NFL tackles ever. He coached the Eagles, Colts, and Seahawks.
NFL Photos/File 1959

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hall of Fame offensive lineman Mike McCormack, who helped the Cleveland Browns win NFL championships in the 1950s and helped bring professional football to the Carolinas four decades later, died Friday in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 83.

During his nearly 50 years in professional football, Mr. McCormack played, coached, and held several executive positions, including president of the Carolina Panthers.

Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said he spoke with Mr. McCormack’s wife, Ann, and was informed of Mr. McCormack’s death of natural causes.

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Mr. McCormack spent 12 seasons with the Browns, helping them win championships in 1954 and 1955. He played with Otto Graham and blocked for running back Jim Brown.

Mr. McCormack coached the Philadelphia Eagles (1973-75), Baltimore Colts (1980-81), and Seattle Seahawks (1982). He served as president and general manager of the Seahawks.

Mr. McCormack was instrumental in helping the Panthers land an NFL franchise in 1993 and is 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 release. ‘‘He had the contacts in the National Football League and was universally respected by everyone associated with professional football.”

A native of Chicago, Mr. McCormack was a dominant offensive lineman for the Browns. At Mr. McCormack’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, coach Paul Brown called Mr. McCormack ‘‘the finest offensive lineman I have ever coached.”

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

Mr. McCormack’s began his coaching career as an assistant in 1965 with the Washington Redskins, learning under coaching legends Vince Lombardi and George Allen.

But he never had the same success he had as a player. Mr. McCormack was a combined 29-51-1 as a head coach.

He was respected enough that the Seahawks hired him to work on the personnel side as president and general manager. He left the Seahawks in 1989, and Richardson hired him as an adviser to help bring pro football to the Carolinas.

He later served as team president, but left the Panthers after two seasons to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Richardson named Mr. McCormack to Carolina’s Hall of Honor in 1997. He is one of two people in the Hall of Honor; the other is former linebacker Sam Mills, who is also deceased.

Dayton said the Panthers plan to hold a moment of silence prior to Monday night’s game against the Patriots.