Monday, March 25, 2019

Another Day, Another Fine Edge Rusher Gone—R.I.P. Ordell Braase

By John Turney
Ordell Braase, according to media reports, passed away today. Mike Klingaman wrote in the Baltimore Sun, "Braase died Monday morning at a nursing center near his home in Bradenton, Fla. He was 87 and had battled Alzheimer’s disease since 2012".

It's been a bit distressing seeing so many rushers pass away in recent weeks—Jack Gregory, Mike Cofer, Cedrick Hardman, and others. However, in this case, Braase lived to a ripe old age, whereas the others went somewhat prematurely.
Braase is a member of the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame and was a three-sport player (football, basketball, and baseball) in his college days at the University of South Dakota where he was All-North Central Conference in football and basketball two years.

He was a thin 215-pound end when the Colts drafted him in the 14th round by the Colts in the 1954 NFL draft. However, after three years in the Army, he reported to the Colts at 245 pounds and proceeded to play twelve seasons for the Baltimore Colts from 1957-68, retiring after the loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.

He was a part of the 1958 and 1959 NFL Championships of the Colts, splitting time with Don Joyce and right defensive end. He'd also get an occasional series at left defensive end giving Gino Marchetti a breather but he played much more often on the right side.

In seeing the film it was clear to us that Braase was the more able player in the late-1950s but for some reason, a heavier but slower Joyce remained the starter. Braase did take over as the starter in 1960 and was a more than able counterpart to Marchetti and then later, Bubba Smith.

Braase was never a First-team All-Pro but he was a Second-team All-Pro in 1960, 1965, 1966,  and 1967 and was a Pro Bowler in 1966 and 1967. He ended his career with at least 82½ sacks (averaged 8.7 in the decade of the 1960s) and reached double-digits in sacks in 1960, 61, 63, 64 and 66 with a high of 12½ in 1964.

In his last few years (mostly in 1968) he gave some defensive snaps to a young up-and-coming defensive end Roy Hilton, in the same process, really, as Braase went through a decade later. (Hilton passed away that past January).

Back then the best defensive ends were on the left side (and the best offensive tackles were on the right side, facing those left ends and Braase's role was as the backside pressure guy for Marchetti, playing the 'Lamar Lundy' role played for Deacon Jones or the role Clyde Simmons played for Reggie White or that Fred Dryer played for Jack Youngblood or than John Zook played for Claude Humphrey. And he was easily as effective as those right ends on that list.
Braase at KXRB 1140 AM/100.1 FM
He was was President of the NFL Players Association in the late 1960s and after his playing career, he was involved in the media, announcing Colts and later Ravens games on Radio and also hosting television shows with Hall of Famer Art Donovan often playing the 'straight man' to Donovan's comedic approach to broadcasting.

May this gentleman edge rusher rest in peace.


  1. John, thanks for the fine summary of Ordell Braase's career....a fanatic Baltimore (never those Irsay robbers from indy) Colts fan, Braase was a steady presence during that great stretch of team history.....I take mild exception to your characterization of
    "all the best tackles played on the right to counter Gino, Deacon,".....Roosevelt Brown and Jim Parker (until moved to guard) were LTs...comments?...thanks as always

    1. there were exceptions but in the 60s and 70s the best tackles were on the right, Gregg, Mix in AFL, McCormack, St Clair, Parker ended his career on right, Dierdorf, Yary, Kunz, Wright. Shell, though left side, was protecting a left-handed QB, so he, too was a front side tackle. Brown was an exception, Parker, too.