Pioneers are important in any people’s history. Their accomplishments go far beyond being “first.” Pioneers motivate others to meet and surpass previously unattainable goals. Such is the case of one Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard. Fritz Pollard was born on January 27, 1894 in Chicago, Illinois. He played college football at Brown University; graduating in 1919. Pollard was one of the first two African-American players in the NFL when the league formed in 1920. He joined the Akron Pros as a halfback and became the team’s head coach in 1921. Pollard played for and/or coached four different teams in his NFL career. He is enshrined in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
Pollard was a forerunner to Dennis Green, Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, and Mike Tomlin. As evidenced by Pollard and others, African-Americans were integral to the beginning, growth, and development of what is now the most popular sports league in America. He graduated from an Ivy League school and was a head coach in the league’s second year of existence. How the intelligence of black players as a collective was ever questioned should be called out as a complete fallacy. Current players and coaches should look to Pollard as inspiration for what can be done when the opportunity presents itself. While the NFL has not been perfect in its record of minority inclusion, the league is the closest thing we have to a meritocracy. Teams want to win and it’s hard to keep good players and coaches out where winning is such a valued commodity. Until next time…
Be a Good Sport!