Bernie Parrish, All-Pro Cornerback Who Took on the N.F.L., Dies at 83

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Bernard Paul Parrish was born on April 29, 1936, in Long Beach, Calif., and grew up in Gainesville, Fla. His father, Charles, was a salesman, and his mother, Margaret (Fitzpatrick) Parrish, was a homemaker. They divorced when Bernie was 6.

Parrish was 8 when, he wrote, his dreams including becoming a baseball star who hit .400, an All-Star football player and winner of a world championship “at whatever I liked best.” Some of that came true.

Attending the University of Florida in Gainesville, he played halfback and defensive back on the football team and excelled even more on the Gators’ baseball team, where he was an All-American second baseman and batted .433 as a junior.

After leaving Florida in 1958, he pursued baseball, signing with the Cincinnati Reds. But after two subpar seasons with lower minor league teams, he returned to football. The Browns had taken him in the ninth round of the N.F.L. draft in 1958, and he left the Reds’ Topeka team to join them at their training camp.

Parrish played for winning Browns teams under Paul Brown and Blanton Collier. In the last regular season game of the 1964 championship season — a 52-20 rout of the Giants — Parrish intercepted a pass thrown by quarterback Y.A. Tittle in the final game of Tittle’s career.

After his playing days, he followed his time with the Teamsters to work as a real estate developer and had stakes in the oil business in Texas.

But he was still engaged in how the N.F.L. treated its players. He kept lobbying for better pensions, and in 2007 he and Herb Adderley, a former cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the marketing subsidiary of the players union of denying retired players tens of millions of dollars in licensing fees.


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