Everyone knows who Jackie Robinson was. The four-sport varsity star from UCLA was the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. His monumental accomplishment stands as one of the greatest achievements in U.S. history. Robinson was an iconic figure for all of us.
But do you know who the first African-Americans to play in the NFL were? Can you name them? I'll bet you can't. For some reason, these great athletes just don't seem to get as much attention, despite the fact that they broke the NFL color barrier in 1946, one full year before Robinson did it in Major League Baseball (1947).
African-Americans did play professional football in its earliest days when it was still a club sport. But, by 1933, football was becoming big business and blacks were not welcomed. It wasn't until 1946, in one very special year, that four men endured the taunts, broke the NFL color barrier and opened the door for all those who have followed.