Ordell Braase, a former Baltimore Colts defensive end during their glory years of the late 1950s and ’60s, died March 25 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, as first reported by The Baltimore Sun. He was 87.
The Colts took a chance on Braase back when the NFL drafts were much longer than they are today. Baltimore selected him during the 14th round of the 1954 draft, and Braase turned into a solid defensive end.
He played in 158 games during his 12-year career, which went from 1957 through 1968. Braase’s final game came in Super Bowl III, when the Colts suffered a stunning 16-7 loss to the New York Jets. He started at defensive end during that game, with Bubba Smith on the other side — part of a defense that was one of the NFL’s best that season as the Colts posted a 13-1 record.
Military service delayed Braase’s career three years, but he settled in quickly. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Braase played at least 12 games each season and later became a president of the NFL Players Association.
He came to the Colts from South Dakota, where, interestingly enough, he had a basketball scholarship. He wound up playing football, basketball and baseball at South Dakota and later made the state’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Braase left college at the weight of 215, but came to the Colts 30 pounds bigger after his Army duty. Braase’s size was a big reason he was so helpful to the Colts for so long, as he made the Pro Bowl in 1966 and 1967 before retiring after the 1968 season.
He remained connected with the Colts for a long time after his retirement, mainly through the media. Braase was one of the team’s radio broadcasters for a while in the ’70s and helped host a popular TV show about football in Baltimore with Art Donovan and Tom Davis.
Braase also was a successful businessman in Baltimore, who worked to raise money for ALS, the disease the cost him his wife, Janice. When Braase helped organize the 40th reunion of the 1958 championship team, he wanted the proceeds to go to ALS research.
Braase is survived by his longtime partner Deanne Robinson.