Captain of Browns' last championship team dies

CLEVELAND -- Galen Fiss, captain of the Cleveland Browns' last championship team and former teammate of Dean Smith and Roger Maris, has died. He was 75.

Fiss, who had Alzheimer's disease, died Monday of cardiac arrest at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb near his home in Leawood, Kan.

Fiss was a linebacker on the Cleveland team that beat the Baltimore Colts 27-0 to win the 1964 title.

He had several notable plays in the game, including a tackle of the speedy Lenny Moore on a screen pass. He also tipped a pass by Johnny Unitas that was intercepted by teammate Vince Costello.

Fiss played with the Browns from 1956-66, was a captain for six years and made two Pro Bowl teams.

"He was a born leader," Costello said. "He got along with everybody, and everybody listened to him."

Fiss was drafted in the 13th round by the Browns in 1953 out of Kansas. After a stint in the Air Force, he chose to play baseball instead.

The Indians drafted Fiss, a catcher, and sent him to Fargo, N.D., of the Northern League, where he was a teammate of Maris, who broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record when he hit 61 homers for the New York Yankees in 1961.

Browns coach Paul Brown offered Fiss more money than he was making in baseball to join the Browns.

Smith, who coached North Carolina to two NCAA basketball championships, was Fiss' roommate at Kansas and they played basketball together.

"My dad is probably the only man to play on the same teams with Maris, Jim Brown and Dean Smith," said Fiss' son Scott.

After retiring from football, Fiss had an insurance agency in Kansas City for more than 20 years.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; three children, Scott, Bob and Leslie; and 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Friday at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Mo.