In Honor of Black History Month: Kenny Washington: First African American NFL Contract Player
Post By Ashli Prescott
Kenny Washington (1918-1971)
First African American NFL Contract Player, Halfback for Los Angeles Rams
Before being the first African American Football player to sign an NFL contract in 1946, Kenny Washington teamed up with Jackie Robinson (an avid football player as well as baseball), Woody Strode, and a fourth unknown black player to dominate UCLA's 1939 team. He was so skilled in the game and played so well that he became the first African American player to be named All-American. Despite this, he did not receive all of the awards he should have been entitled to because of his skin color. This caused outrage within the community and among the nation Black press. When the NFL first failed to sign him, he didn't let it hinder his performance and was still determined to be seen. He became the star of two professional minor leagues before finally being extended the draft into the NFL.
There is a day and trophy named in honor of Kenny and to highlight his everlasting presence, Tony Rosas (the 1962 winner of the award) shared, "When you play football here, you know you're after his trophy." Rosas called Washington a hero even though he, himself, was a wounded Vietnam War veteran.
What ground breaking athlete do you think of who has broken through the barrier of racism in modern times?
Post a picture on instagram of an athlete that has inspired you. follow us @jimmyjazzstores and use hashtag #BHMJJ