Former NFL player and Green Bay Packers assistant coach Dick Modzelewski died Friday, Oct. 20, in Eastlake, Ohio, outside Cleveland. No cause of death was given.
Modzelewski, 87, served as defensive coordinator with the Packers from 1984 to 1987 under Forrest Gregg. Originally hired as defensive line coach by Gregg, Modzelewski was named defensive coordinator roughly five months later when Hank Bullough, Gregg's first choice, resigned to become head coach of the Pittsburgh Maulers of the United States Football League.
Modzelewski inherited the league's 28th- and worst-ranked defense in yards allowed and it improved to 16th in his first season. Over the next three years, Modzelewski's defenses finished 12th, 12th and 14th. Prior to joining Gregg's staff in Green Bay, Modzelewski coached 16 years for Cleveland, the New York Giants and Cincinnati. He spent three years in Cleveland and four in Cincinnati serving under Gregg.
After losing his job in Green Bay when Gregg resigned to become coach at Southern Methodist University, Modzelewski served as defensive line coach in Detroit in 1988 and '89.
Modzelewski also played 14 years in the NFL from 1953-66 with Washington, Pittsburgh, the Giants and Cleveland. He was a 6-foot, 250-pound defensive tackle.
Modzelewski spent eight seasons with the Giants and was part of one of the first 4-3 defensive lines to gain fame once that alignment became the league's standard defense in the 1950s. The other members of the line were ends Andy Robustelli and Jim Katcavage, and tackle Rosey Grier.
Modzelewski played in eight NFL championship games, including three against the Packers: 1961 and '62 with the Giants, and 1965 with the Browns. He was on the losing side in all three. However, he also played on two NFL championship teams: 1956 with the Giants and 1964 with the Browns.
Modzelewski's older brother, Ed, also played six years in the NFL in the 1950s. Ed, a 6-0, 217-pound fullback, was nicknamed, "Big Mo," and Dick, the larger of the two, was nicknamed, "Little Mo."