Analyzed Sports | Andrew Chapman Jr.
The 2018 NFL season is just around the corner. Today, more than 70% of the players are African American. It didn’t start that way. In the beginning, there were those that blazed the trails of the future. Who did move the world forward? These men were strong when real strength was called for. Fritz Pollard paved the way in the 1920s. He was the first black player and coach at Brown University. Pollard also played in the NFL. After Fritz Pollard, was the 1933 gentlemen’s agreement with others, including Brown University that after Pollard there would be no more black players.
Then in the 1940s, UCLA found 3 young men who would challenge the status quo. After World War II things would change. Executives like Paul Brown and George Hollis would start to sign black players. Kenny Washington would sign with the LA Rams. He was a great example that the color line would be challenged. The LA Rams would also sign Willis Strode. Then Paul Brown began to form his Cleveland Browns. He would sign Bill Willis and history was made with the greatest quarterback Otto Graham also Marion Motley was a part of that legendary Browns team in the 40s.
Paul Brown and his Cleveland Browns would win several championships with black players. Long before Super Bowls came along, being called Champions was the top prize. Still, the racism the early football pioneers faced was beyond our understanding today. On and Off the field, they experienced racism. Incidents on the field would occur, such as racial slurs, late out of bounds hits, intentionally standing on fingers and broken ribs.
These Racial Pioneers should be remembered for the trail they blazed while facing tough adversity during the early football era. Credit must be given to those who paved the way for the NFL players and coaches of today. The Cleveland Browns would go on to win 5 championships. Four Championships were won in the American Football League while only one was won in the National Football League, making them one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Today Bill Willis and Marion Motley, and Fritz Pollard bust rest rightfully within the Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This one goes out to the men who laid the foundation. If you don’t know then as KRS-One said: You must learn.