The name Fritz Pollard is one that many football fans will recognize. Few know that the football pioneer coached at an HBCU.
Pollard first emerged on the scene at Brown University in the 1910s, where he was recognized as an unparralleled runner. In 1954, more than 35 years after his last game at Brown, the Pittsburgh Courier had this to say about him.
“After thirty-eight seasons, one fact remains: no back every streaked across a football season with the comet-like brilliance of Fritz Pollard who, back in 1916, led underdog Brown University to its first and last national championship.”
After graduating from Brown, Pollard went into coaching. He was hired by Lincoln University in Pennsylvania to guide its football program. He did so from 1918 through 1920, when he was recruited to play in the newly formed “National Football League.” He played for the Akron Pros while still technically head coach at Lincoln, which soon came to an end.
Pollard’s career was hampered by an overtly racist NFL that eventually ushered he and the other early African-Americans out of the game. The consensus All-American was eventually given his due, being named to the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fames. He died in 1986 at the age of 92.