The 23 living and six deceased football players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame were presented and honored before Super Bowl LI in Houston on Sunday.
Following an almost year-long partnership between the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF), the NFL “reached out with the great concept of shining a light on the Historically Black Colleges and Universities by introducing those HBCUs Gold Jackets at Super Bowl LI,” PFHOF President and CEO Dave Baker said in a statement.
Of the 303 members of the PFHOF, 29 (listed below) attended HBCUs. Grambling State University President Rick Gallot said in an interview that the amount of hall of famers that graduated from HBCUs highlights “the importance of HBCUs and how we have played a significant role in producing some of the greatest players to ever put on a helmet and shoulder pads.”
Former Grambling State and NFL quarterback Doug Williams, one of the founders of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, accompanied the Hall of Famers in their presentation Sunday and narrated a video tribute that preceded the ceremony.
“There was a time when we judged football players by the color of their skin before the content of their character,” Williams said in the video. “Some [attended HBCUs] by choice, many by necessity … the honor of their deeds opened the nation to racial equality.’
The Black College Football Hall Of Fame is now part of the new Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio, adding to the history and association of HBCUs and their players’ influence on the game.