In the history of sports entertainment, many African Americans such as Jack Johnson (boxing), Jackie Robinson (baseball), Jesse Owens (track and Field), Althea Gibson (tennis), Hank Aaron (baseball), Wilma Rudolph (track and field), Ernie Davis (football) and Bill Russell (basketball) have made major contributions that opened the doors for many other people of color. These are the African Americans that changed the view of sports forever, and were in the spotlight from 1897 until 1976.
Little is said of Fritz Pollard. He was the first African American to play in the National Football League, and he was the first African American head coach. Fritz Pollard was born in Chicago on January 27,1894. He attended Albert Grannis Lane Manual Training (Lane Tech). At Lane Tech he played football, baseball , and track. Pollard attended college at Brown University, where he majored in chemistry. He played running back for their football Team, and in 1916 they played in the Rose Bowl. Later in his college career, he became the first black running back to be named to the Walter Camp All-American team. Fritz Pollard started his professional career playing for the Akron Pro’s. In 1920 he led the Pro’s to the National Football League (NFL)championship. He went on to become co-head coach of the Pros, the first black head coach in the NFL. Pollard later played with other teams and also coached. In 1926 the owners of the National Football League decided to no longer have black athletes. This caused all of Fritz Pollard, his records as well as all other black athletes to be removed from the league. In 1954, Pollard became the first African American to be inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame. He also received the honor of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Fritz Pollard died May 11,1986 at the age 92.