2014 Hall of Fame  

 

Fields of Glory: African-American pioneers in pro football

  • By NFL.com
More Columns >

 

In recognition of Black History Month, NFL Network presents a look at some of the most influential African-Americans in pro football.

Cleveland Browns great Jim Brown set the mark that all future running backs would come to be measured against.

Olympic Gold Medalist "Bullet" Bob Hayes introduced an element of speed to pro football and helped change the way the game is played.

Hall of Famer Deacon Jones set a new standard for the way defensive ends played, and helped make "sack" an official stat in football.

One of the watershed moments of integration in pro football came in 1962 when Bobby Mitchell signed with the Washington Redskins.

Warren Moon was the first undrafted player and first African-American quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hall of Famers Bill Willis and Marion Motley were the first black men to be named all-league players as original members of the Cleveland Browns.

The Chicago Bears' Walter Payton played in 186 consecutive games and retired as the league's all-time leading rusher in 1987.

Fritz Pollard was the first African-American to play in the Rose Bowl, and then became pro football's first African-American head coach.

In 1946, the league's color barrier was shattered when the Los Angeles Rams signed Kenny Washington and Woody Strode.

LaDainian Tomlinson is rushing toward the Pro Football Hall of Fame and breaking every record in his path on the way there.

Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw is the only man to play in three Super Bowls for the same team in three separate decades.

The Minister of Defense, Reggie White, retired as the league's all-time leader in sacks before passing away in 2004 at the age of 43.

Doug Williams shattered decades of prejudice and misconceptions about the inferiority of the black quarterback in Super Bowl XXII.

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop

NFL News
CONTENT
15