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Rita Shelley
By
April 20, 2015

Football Feature: First African-American Players in the NFL

This week we honor Dr. Martin Luther King and the depth of change he brought to the world. We also wanted to give a shout out to the Seahawks and Broncos, whom we are eager to see in the #superbowl next weekend. It was, of course, a no brainer that our Trivial Tuesday question focused on African American football players and their victory over the color barrier in the NFL.

Four black pro-ball players pushed against that barrier to become some of the first black NFL players: Washington, Strode, Willis and Motley. All of them signed NFL contracts in 1946, in the following order:

Kenny Washington -Los Angeles Rams on March 21, 1946

Woody Strode - Los Angeles Rams May 7, 1946

Bill Willis - Cleveland Browns August 6, 1946

Marion Motley - Cleveland Browns on August 9, 1946

In March of 1946 the NFL lifted its race ban and the Los Angeles Rams, facing a threat of losing their lease on the Los Angeles Coliseum, had to sign an African-American player.  To quote our contest winner, Duncan Campbell, “ In March 1946 - Kenny Washington was signed by Los Angeles Rams, then signed Woody Strode - May 1946.” Kenny Washington was a star running back of Abraham Lincoln High School, played college ball for UCLA and, according to the Time magazine's in 1940 was "Considered by West Coast fans the most brilliant player in the U. S. last year.” Despite his impressive qualifications, Kenny could not play in the NFL after his graduation from UCLA. However, he did not abandon his dreams of playing pro-ball and started playing semi-pro football for the Hollywood Bears and San Fran Clippers, building up his reputation as an outstanding player.

CORRECT ANSWER: Kenny Washington and the Los Angeles Rams.

FUN FACT: Kenny Washington, Woody Strode and Jackie Robinson all played for UCLA at the same time. Yup, Jackie Robinson, the baseball player.

Thank you for playing, everyone. Stay tuned for our next week’s Trivial Tuesday line up and we’ll have some fun give-aways for you.

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