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Thomas M. Braatz

May 12, 1933 ~ October 30, 2018 (age 85)
Thomas Myron Braatz
May 12, 1933 - October 30, 2018

FT. LAUDERDALE - 
Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin to Myron and Lila Braatz, Tom attended Mary D. Bradford High School, where he played basketball, football and track.  He was described in one article as “a pass catching end” in football, “a steady scorer” in basketball, and “can leap his height” (6 .2ft.) in track. He was selected to the All State team in 1950 and played in the annual All State North-South High School Classic. As captain of the basketball team, he was chosen on the All Big Eight first team and voted team’s MVP as “a rebound specialist with offensive prowess.” Along with his athletic achievements in high school, he also met the love of his life, Jeri. 

Tom attended Marquette University and played football under coach Lisle Blackbourn. As a junior, he led Marquette football players in playing time with 412 minutes out of a possible 600 for ten games and was named co-captain of the Hilltoppers in 1954. Later he was chosen to the 22-man roster for the Shriners North-South Charity All-Star game in Miami, Florida.
 
Tom was selected in the 14th round of the 1955 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins as a 2-way player.  He was subsquently drafted into the US Army in 1955 and stationed in Korea for his 2-year tour of duty.  He played on the All Star Army football team that beat Navy All Stars 35-0.  He was also chosen on the Far-East All Army football squad, which defeated the Air Force in the Rice Bowl in Tokyo in 1956. 1957 was his rookie year with Washington Redskins under coach Joe Kuharich.  He played both ways as tight end and linebacker for 3 years. Don Shula was also on that team. In 1960, he went to the Dallas Cowboys in the expansion draft to play under Coach Tom Landry.  A back injury in 1962 ended his playing career.
 
Tom worked for the Atlanta Falcons from 1965 to 1986, first as a scout, then Director of Player Personnel and General Manager with coaches Norm VanBrocklin, Marion Campbell, and Leeman Bennett.  He hired Bobby Beathard on his first scouting staff in April 1968 and Beathard went on to become G.M. for the San Diego Chargers and inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Tom was featured in a front-page article in April 1982 in the Wall Street Journal.   He drafted or acquired 24  Falcons players who played in 68 Pro Bowls, including many well known players such as Tommy Nobis, Jim Mitchell, Claude Humphrey, Jeff Van Note, William Andrews, Gerald Riggs, Steve Bartkowski, Junior Miller, Mike Ken, Bill Fralic, RC Thielman, and Bobby Butler; but also some lesser known Pro Bowlers such as George Kunz, John James, Scott Case and Jim ‘Cannonball’ Butler. Buddy Curry and Al Richardson were named AP co-rookies of the year from the 1980 draft.
 

Tom was named Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Green Bay Packers on January 31, 1987.  He named Lindy Infante head coach after the departure of Forest Gregg.  Infante was later named NFL coach of the year in 1989 by both the Associated Press and Sporting News. From 1987 to 1992 Tom was the Vice President of Football Operations and drafted or acquired 7 players who played in 13 Pro Bowls, including players such as: Sterling Sharpe, Leroy Butler, Chuck Cecil, Don Majkowski, and Bryce Paup among others.
 
In 1992, Don Shula named Tom the Director of College  Scouting for the Miami Dolphins. Tom drafted Tim Bowens who was NFL 1994 Rookie of the Year.  From 1992 to 2003 Tom drafted or acquired 14 players who played in 36 Pro Bowls which included, Zack Thomas, Jason Taylor, Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain, Tim Bowens, Chris Chambers, Olindo Mare and Larry Izzo among others. Tom retired from the NFL in June 2003. Other front office hires still in the league include John Dorsey (GM- Browns) and Jason Licht (GM- Buccaneers). 
 
In 39 seasons as a front office executive, Tom drafted or acquired 44 players who played in 112 Pro Bowls. His teams went to 17 playoff games during his tenure. He has been inducted into the Pro Scouting Hall of Fame and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from his Alma Mater, Marquette University.  

In retirement, Tom enjoyed spending time with his family at Lake Lanier in Georgia and at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he taught his four grandchildren about fishing and life. He also played golf with family and friends and was an avid collector of antique fishing lures, western belt buckles, stag horn carving sets and Fostoria. Tom also enjoyed attending Willie Nelson concerts regularly.
 
Tom is survived by his wife of 63 years, Geraldine Braatz; his two sons,
Thomas D Braatz; Jonathan Braatz of Atlanta (Stephanie); and four grandchildren (Jonathan II, Ryan, Hannah, Sarah).

Services
Memorial Mass
Saturday, December 1, 2018 10:30 am
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church 
4595 Bayview Dr
Fort Lauderdale, FL  33308

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