Fritz was ritz as pioneer for Black football players

Fritz Pollard did it all in planting roots for Black football players in the NFL

Stephen Towns, grandson of quarterback/running back Fritz Pollard at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement in 2005. Photo by Warren Wimmer (Getty Images)

When Fritz Pollard was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954, he was the second African-American to receive the honor.

That was pretty much the only thing Pollard was second at, because he was a pioneer otherwise, serving as the first to blaze several trails for Black football players.

Despite being only 5 feet 7 inches tall, Pollard was a giant in the history of professional football.

His notable career accomplishments included:

  • Along with Bobby Marshall, Pollard is credited with being the first African-American player in the NFL in 1920.
  • Pollard was the first African-American to be a head coach in the NFL after being named co-head coach of the Akron Pros in 1921. He also was a running back for the team while he coached.
  • In 1915, Pollard was the first African-American to play in the Rose Bowl game, when he played as a member of Brown University.
  • Pollard was the first African-American selected to the backfield position of Walter Camp’s All-American team in 1916.

Pollard was also an integral advocate for interracial football, organizing the first interracial all-star game for NFL players in 1922.

After his football career was over, Pollard went on to publish the first Black-owned newspaper in New York City, the New York Independent News, from 1935 to 1942.

Pollard died in 1986 at age 92.

He was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

This story was first published in 2020. It has since been updated.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.