The 2013 NFL season kicks off on Sunday, September 8th. On this year’s star roster is a record number of black quarterbacks. For the first time in history, the NFL will start with nine black quarterbacks. Among those on the list is E.J. Manuel of the Buffalo Bills, the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. Newton was the only rookie to ever pass for 4,000 yards in a single season. The lineup also includes veteran Michael Vick, the first black quarterback to be selected first overall in 2001 with the Atlanta Falcons.
The historical season is the result of a job first given to Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard, the first black quarterback of the NFL and the league’s first black head coach. Pollard took the field for the Akron Pros along with Bobby Marshall, who started for the Minneapolis Marines in 1920.
Ironically, Washington Redskins owner George Marshall led an informal ban on black athletes in 1934 for nearly twelve years. There wouldn’t be a black presence in professional football again until 1946.
NFL player Willie Thrower became the third black quarterback in league history when he threw eight passes in one game for the Bears in 1953. Then in 1955, Charlie “Choo Choo” Brackins was signed by the Green Bay Packers.