Monday, March 27, 2017

Desegregating football with Marion Motley

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Football in America has never been made more colorful than the history of racial discrimination that has always flavored it. Many African American players have had to achieve in much harder ways, just to succeed. One of them was Marion Motley of the Cleveland Browns.

What made this special was Motley’s superb skills, which he chose to do the work of getting the sport’s attention. He was a leading pass-blocker and rusher in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He had a career average of 5.7 yards per game, a still standing record for a full-back.

He was an exceptionally versatile player, as he was known as a consistent contributor on both offense and defense. Even his contemporary, the legendary Joe Perry considered Motley the greatest all-around football player there ever was. Both players were eventually included in the hall of fame.

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However, Motley’s greatness transcended the game. Every run, every pass, and every single move he made on the field seemed to be inspired by the passion to desegregate the game of football.

He recounted how everybody seemed to be calling him and fellow black teammate Bill Willis ‘niggers’, while they did everything on the field to make them pay for every insult thrown at them on and off the gridiron. With superb athleticism, they won over many opposing teams. They embarrassed many racists too.

Racism has never been easy to deal with for blacks, as even today, a slur slips up in football every so often. But in 1950, there was a move that significantly addressed racism, as the NFL declared that there was no room in the sport for it. Many believe that this wouldn’t have happened without Motley’s fighting heart.

Hi, I’m Jonathan Bunge, and I will always be a fan of the Cleveland Browns. Visit my blog for more football updates.