Hall of Famer Mike McCormack dies

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mike McCormack, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and an integral part of bringing the Carolina Panthers to Charlotte, died Friday. He was 83.

McCormack was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984 after a 12-year career that included six selections to the Pro Bowl as an offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns. Legendary coach Paul Brown, who gave McCormack's induction speech, called him "the finest offensive lineman I have ever coached."

McCormack was listed as one of the three finest tackles in league history in 1994 when USA Today posted its all-time 75th anniversary team.

He became the chief adviser for Jerry Richardson in his effort to bring a team to Charlotte in 1989. That effort came to fruition on Oct. 26, 1993, when Richardson was awarded the team.

McCormack served as team president for the first two seasons (1995-96) then retired after the 1996 team lost in the NFC Championship Game at Green Bay. He became the first inductee into the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor and is one of only two members of the organization with a statue outside the stadium. (The other is linebacker Sam Mills.)

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

"He was a wonderful man, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ann, and the entire McCormack family."

McCormack was a native of Chicago. He resided in Palm Desert, Calif., at the time of his death.

Teaming with quarterback Otto Graham, McCormack helped the Browns win NFL championships in 1954 and 1955. He later blocked for running back Jim Brown.

McCormack also served as a coach in the NFL, beginning as an assistant in 1965 with the Washington Redskins. He worked under coaching legends Vince Lombardi and George Allen.

He was the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles (1973-75), Baltimore Colts (1980-81) and Seattle Seahawks (1982) before serving as Seahawks president and general manager until 1988.