Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will wear a commemorative patch honoring Fritz Pollard, the NFL’s first Black head coach, for the team’s season-opening game against the Dolphins on Sunday, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe.
Pollard became the NFL’s first Black head coach in 1921 when he was hired by the Akron Pros, making him a player-coach. The 1921 season was Pollard’s lone season as head coach of the Pros.
Pollard played college football at Brown University, where he became the school’s first Black player. He led the school to the Rose Bowl in 1916. In the next season, he became the first Black player to be named an All-American.
Pollard also earned First-team All-Pro honors when playing with the Pros in 1920. He left the team for the Milwaukee Badgers the next season.
#Patriots coach Bill Belichick will honor Hall of Famer Fritz Pollard Sunday with a commemorative patch, per source. Once described as the most feared runner in pro football, Pollard also earned distinction in 1921 as the first Black person to serve as an @nfl head coach.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) September 13, 2020
Pollard was a head coach for two more teams after the Pros. He was in charge of the Hammond Pros, a traveling NFL team, in 1925 and was the head coach of the Chicago Black Hawks, an all-African American team established by Pollard, in 1928.
Pollard, who died in 1986, was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
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