Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


Old comments migrated to Disqus, currently working outtechnical issues

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Long Long Time Ago, In A Ball Club Far Far Away

Black Super Bowl coaches will knock down another wall, so says the Boston Herald.

There was no racial barrier to knock down. Not any more. The wall was knocked down in 1945, in a different team sport where blacks were traditionally absent - baseball - when Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson.

The National Football League once had black players and even one black coach prior to that (Fritz Pollard, 1919 Akron Pros, 1925 Hammond Pros), but that changed, as Wikipedia's entry on the NFL states:

"But shortly after the entry of George Preston Marshall to the league in 1932 as owner of the Boston Braves/Washington Redskins franchise, black players disappeared from NFL rosters.

The tide turned in 1949, when George Taliaferro was the first black to be drafted by an NFL team (Chicago Bears), and Wallace Triplett was the first to actually play in the NFL (for the Detroit Lions).

(See this site for a list of milestones in black participation in American football.)

With blacks participating in professional football once again, and in increasing numbers, it was only a matter of time when they would gain sufficient knowledge of the game to qualify for coaching positions. In 1957, Lowell Perry began three seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Art Shell would be the first black head coach of the modern era (1990-1994 Los Angeles Raiders).

Coaching is one thing; getting to the Super Bowl is another. The greatest coach in the world can't get there without gifted players, and the greatest players can't work as an effective team without a competent coaching staff.

Super Bowl XLI is a testimony to a cultural shift of the latter 1940s, and to the men who used opportunity and talent to reach the pinnacle of success.

And it all happened without the benefit of a single government program.


Site Meter