Frederick “Fritz” W. Graf
Age: 90. Birthday: Dec. 28, 1922.
Professional career: Graf is a retired NFL field judge and sales representative of medical and hospital supplies.
Education: Graduated from St. Vincent High School in 1940 and from Western Reserve University in 1944. He earned a business administration degree.
Family: Fritz Graf was born to parents Fred and Kathryn Graf. Fritz married high school sweetheart Rita Botzum on Aug. 10, 1946. The couple were married for 62 years until she passed away in 2009. They have 10 children: Denny, Judi, Larry, Mary Eileen, Jack, Martha, Al, Helen, Kathi and Paul; 17 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
Additional notes: Graf served in World War II as a navy officer. His highest rank was lieutenant. He formerly lived in West Akron and delivered newspapers as a youth for the Akron Times-Press, the main competition for the Akron Beacon Journal at that time.
Story time with Fritz
Fritz Graf accumulated thousands of stories from being around football for so long.
Here are two examples:
• “I remember one incident with a play with a player from St. Louis. They were playing Atlanta and all of a sudden this big right tackle from Atlanta stepped back and he gave this guy the dangun-dist uppercut to the stomach that I have ever seen in my life. It wasn’t my call, but I saw it and I threw my flag. You don’t see things like that in professional football. You might see a small punch, but not a big haymaker like that. We kept him in the game. Everyone in the stands saw it because it was that obvious. People booed and booed. We made our report and the league came back and said that we did a great job of handling the call. What it didn’t show, and we found out later, was that there was something else that happened. I saw the guy who got hit at the hall of fame later in life and I asked: ‘What did you do to get that big tackle to hit you with a big uppercut to the stomach?’ He said he gave that big tackle an uppercut to the stomach. Then that big tackle stepped back and let him have it. He said: ‘I got exactly what I deserved.’ ”
• “Cleveland was playing Baltimore and it was a 6-6 game. There was a third down where [Browns coach] Sam Rutigliano went for a field goal. He didn’t wait for fourth down. Well, they miss it and the other team gets the ball on the 20-yard line. He comes running down the field, screaming and going crazy, saying: ‘I get another down, I get another down.’ He lost track of what was happening. We penalized him and since then I kid Sam every time I talk with him.”
— Michael Beaven