Entering Brown University as a twenty-one year old freshman in 1915, Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard became one of the most outstanding running backs of his time.

Helping to lead his team to many successful wins, including an important victory against Yale, he became the first black player to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day 1916.

Even though Brown lost, he became a widely known figure in America. The next season he proved himself again, even though the schedule was drastically reduced due to World War I. In 1919 he became one of the first blacks to play in the newly created American Professional Football Association (APFA), which would soon thereafter change its name to the National Football League. He was signed by the Akron Pros, originally the Akron Indians, and led them to an APFA title in 1920, which was shared with the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears). He helped organize and coach the Milwaukee Badgers and later coached for Lincoln University and the Hammond Pros.

Pollard was an inaugural figure for modern day football both in joining the pro league and then being one of the first black coaches.

Photo courtesy of Hard Road to Glory, AP/Worldwide Photos