Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on this day in 2005.
Pollard was born Jan. 27, 1894 in Chicago. He was named All-America as a halfback and led Brown to the Rose Bowl after the 1915 season (played Jan. 1, 1916). Pollard was the first African American to play in the prestigious bowl game.
He followed that distinguished college career by serving in World War I and becoming a pro — an Akron Pro, that is — in 1920 when Pollard helped his team to an 8-0-3 mark and the first championship of the American Professional Football Association. The league became the NFL in 1922.
Pollard was named the first African American head coach in league history in 1921, as he continued to play for the Pros that season.
Other teams Pollard played for included: Milwaukee Badgers, 1922; Hammond Pros 1923, 1925 (also coached in 1925); Gilberton Cadamounts (1923-24); Akron Indians, 1925-26; and Providence Steam Roller (1925).
In 1928, Pollard organized the Chicago Black Hawks, an all-African American team that played white teams in Chicago and teams on the West Coast until 1932.
Pollard passed away in 1986, but an organization named in his honor, the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation (**fritzpollard.org**) works to promote diversity and equality of job opportunity for coaching, front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams.
The organization worked with Black Coaches Association (now Black Coaches & Administrators) to establish an award in February 2004.
"Fritz Pollard was a pioneer, a man who excelled not only because of his magnificent athletic gifts, but also because of his wits, intelligence and ability to lead and inspire people," said Floyd A. Keith, former executive director of the BCA when the award was created. "Those qualities and his persistence against very long odds capture the very essence of the BCA's annual male coach of the year award in all aspects."
Information from Pollard's ****bio page*** on The Pro Football Hall of Fame site was used in this report.*