Blood, sweat, and tears are what football is all about. A player is giving his all on the field for the team. Football is a sport, where teamwork is most important. Everyone must be in synch in order to make a play work. On the field, color of a man’s skin does not matter. Everyone is family for sixty minutes of controlled chaos. The position that a player occupies is from his skill level to perform the duties that position requires. Even though, this sport is based on having the best player at a position that he perform at a competitive level regardless of race, it has not always been that way. From the past and up to the present, there have been stereotypes on what qualifies a certain individual to play a certain position. Because of race, some athletes have been made to play positions that they did not want to pursue. Many African-American athletes that came into the NFL, from the past to the present, where stereotyped to play many of the non-thinking positions: wide receiver, running back, and defensive back to name a few.
Many people perceived, that an African-American athlete was not able to handle the thinking aspects of some of the glamour positions: quarterback and linebacker. People felt these positions were to complex for the African-American athlete grasp. For, this situation was no only regulated in the sports field, it was all over society. The thinking of many in the White School of History felt from a societal point of view that African-Americans were never as smart as the so-called glorified white race. The struggle for the African-American athlete was not only limited to the playing field, it was all over society. My paper will take a look at the history of the African-American quarterback from the Black History School Theory. These thoughts will convey the struggle that many of the pioneers had to endure in order to conquer the racist views of white society. Even though there have been steps taken in order to get an opportunity, the struggle still continues.
Still, there are some that feel many African-American quarterbacks are not smart enough or gifted enough to play the position. This behavior can be seen presently at the University of Florida. A white quarterback, by the name of Rex Grossman, guides the Florida Gators football team, and his primary receiver is Jabbar Gaffney. Now, Jabbar Gaffney, who is African-American, was recruited out of high school as a quarterback and was told he would possibly lead the highflying Gator offense. Yes, he would lead the offense but not as the quarterback. Since, Coach Spurrier said they were more than stable at the quarterback position the only way he would get any playing time was to convert to a wide receiver. All the white quarterbacks of the Gators offense were never asked to play another position. This present day situation brings to light that the White School of History is still alive in today’s age.
This type of situation was the reason that many pioneers: Fritz Pollard, Willie Thrower, Marlin Briscoe, George Taliaferro, James Harris, Joe Gilliam, Warren Moon, and Doug Williams, endured hatred in order prove this type of thinking wrong. The history of the African-American quarterback is one of determination, hunger, and drive, to get what they justly deserve from the white society, which is equality and respect. 500, plus expenses, to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association. In a game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, Heffelinger scored the only points of the game by returning a fumble 25 yards for the score. 1920-1995), Multiple authors, pp. During the early years of professional football, all the teams were white. The first athlete to show that an African-American can lead a football team as a quarterback was Fritz Pollard. Here is a man that the NFL rarely talks about and in contributions to history are just as important as any other athlete of his time. ] to be named a collegiate All-American (The History of the NFL Ignores the First Black Quarterback, Evans, pp.
Fritz Pollard was a member of the Akron Pros in 1920 along with Paul Robeson, to become the only Africans-Americans to play in the 13-team league (The History of the NFL Ignores the First Black Quarterback, Evans, pp. During his time with Akron, Pollard led the team to an undefeated season with a 10-0 record, which was a first in professional football. In 1922 Pollard and Robeson left Akron and played for the Milwaukee Badgers. In Milwaukee they were joined by Fred “Duke” Slater to give Milwaukee the first three African-Americans to play on one team. Next, Fritz Pollard coached the Hammonds Pros in 1923; this was a pioneering move to becoming the first African American coach of a professional team. After coaching 3 seasons, Pollard went back to the Akron Pros for one year in 1926 and then left professional football. Being a pioneer and showing society that African-Americans could compete equally with their white counterparts one might think the resentment toward the African-American athlete would change. After Fritz Pollard’s success in professional football, the NFL secretly kept out all African-Americans athletes from 1933 until 1946. This only showed that the struggle had just begun.