Next up in our Game Changer series, football pioneer Fritz Pollard.
Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard is best known as the first Black coach in the NFL (APFA). He became co-head coach of the Akron Pros in 1921 while still playing the running back position for the team. With Bobby Marshall, Pollard was one of the first Black players in the NFL in 1920. He spent 6 more seasons playing until 1926 when he and the 9 other black players in the league were removed never to return. After his time in the NFL, he went on to organize all-black barnstorming teams, including the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928 and the Harlem Brown Bombers in the 1930s.
Pollard is also known as the first black player to make the Walter Camp All-America team while playing half-back for Brown University during their 1916 Rose Bowl season. Sportswriter Camp is credited with saying that Fritz Pollard was one of the greatest runners his eyes had ever seen.
He leaves a legacy that includes the Fritz Pollard Alliance which promotes minority hiring throughout the NFL, and the Fritz Pollard Award which is co-sponsored by Brown University and Black Coaches & Administrators and goes to the collegiate or professional coach of the year. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.