Frank Gatski Cleveland Browns & Detroit Lions
"Just being there. Just winning all those games. That’s what it was all about for me.”
During the period the Cleveland Browns were dominating first the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1949 and then the National Football League in the early 1950s, Frank Gatski anchored the offensive line that powered pro football's most potent attack. He concluded his 11-year tenure with the Browns in 1956 and then was traded to the Detroit Lions for a final season in 1957.
The 6-3, 233-pound Gatski, who played three years at Marshall College before joining the U.S. Infantry in World War II, had to survive a grueling training camp tryout to earn a spot on the 1946 Browns roster. Then he had to serve a two-year apprenticeship behind the veteran Mo Scarry before Frank took over the regular center job for good in 1948.
Strong, consistent, blessed with a great attitude and exceptional pass blocking abilities, Frank was also durable. He never missed a game or a practice in high school, college or the pros. He was named to the All-NFL honor roll in 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1955 and played as a starting center in the 1956 Pro Bowl. Perhaps because he played at a comparatively obscure position, Gatski was relatively unsung through most of his career. Many of his more publicized teammates on both the Browns and the Lions preceded him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, Frank can claim one signal distinction – he played in 11 championship games in 12 seasons with his team winning eight times.
During his tenure, the Browns won all four AAFC championships and were in the title game their first six years in the NFL. The Browns missed the playoffs in 1956 but Frank earned his eighth championship ring in 1957, when the Lions overwhelmed his old team, 59-14, in Gatski's final game in the NFL.