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Fritz Pollard: Profiling the First African-American Head Coach in National Football League

As football season approach, it is important to reflect upon the greatest African-American men who have paved the way for the young athletes of today. One of the greatest men in the National Football League was Fritz Pollard. Pollard was the first African-American head coach in the National Football League. A sportswriter ranked Pollard as one of the best runners he had seen in his life.

Pollard was born on January 27, 1894 in Chicago. As a young boy he attended the Albert Grannis Manual Training High School. The school was also known as the “Lane Tech.” He ran track and played football and many other sports. Pollard went on to enroll in Brown University, where he majored in Chemistry. Pollard played half-back on the Brown football team, which went to the 1916 Rose Bowl. He became the first #black to be named to the Walter Camp All-America team.


“Pollard later played pro football with the Akron Pros, the team he would lead to the NFL championship in 1920. In 1921, he became the co-head coach of the Akron Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back. He also played for the Milwaukee Badgers, Hammond Pros, Gilberton Cadamounts, Union Club of Phoenixville and Providence Steam Roller. Some sources indicate that Pollard also served as co-coach of the Milwaukee Badgers with Budge Garrett for part of the 1922 season.” Pollard also coached the Hammond Pros in 1923 and 1924. By 1926, Pollard, along will all the nine Black players in the league were removed at the end of the season. After being removed Pollard still spent time organizing an all-black barnstorming team, which included the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928.

Pollard founded his own football team in the 1930s, the Brown Bombers. However, the Depression ended the run of the team in 1938, and Pollard decided to go on other ventures. He started a talent agency, tax consulting, and film and music production ventures. He produced Rockin’ the Blues in 1956, which included performers such as Pearl Woods, The Five Miller Sisters and the Harptones. In 1981 Brown University conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Pollard, recognizing his achievements as athlete and leader.

“In 2005, Fritz Pollard was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He appears as a free agent in Madden NFL 09 and Madden NFL 10 and is also a part of the game’s Hall of Fame feature. Pollard also had a son Fritz Pollard, Jr. won the bronze medal for 110 m hurdles at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group promoting minority hiring throughout the NFL, is named for Pollard. Brown University and the Black Coaches & Administrators co-sponsor the annual Fritz Pollard Award, which is presented to the college or professional coach chosen by the BCA as coach of the year.”


Written by PH

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