That sounds rather heroic to me. [6] The Bruins played eventual conference and national champion USC to a 0–0 tie with the 1940 Rose Bowl on the line. He was posthumously inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. Kenny Mack, Hall-of-Fame Announcer and WTPA Founding Member, Has Passed It is with a heavy heart that we must report the death on Friday, May 10 of Kenny Mack, 78, of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Former offensive tackle Tony Jones, a one-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, passed away at the age of 54, the Broncos announced Friday. This should be an embarrassment for us. [24][25], One legacy of Washington's and Strode's experience in the NFL – paralleled in 1946 by racial trailblazers Marion Motley and Bill Willis in the rival All-America Football Conference – was that Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, saw that blacks and whites could coexist in a violent sport without much disruption, and decided that Major League Baseball could be integrated as well. His alma mater Lincoln High School has annually awarded the Kenny Washington Trophy to the school's best football player since 1949. This should be an embarrassment for us. That's why it's important to recognize men like Washington. A man who had to endure many cheap shots at the bottom of a pile up, yet still stood tall. Too often we confuse excellence with numbers. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. As a baseball player, Washington was rated better than his teammate Jackie Robinson. [5][3], Washington was the first Bruin to lead the nation in total offense and became the first consensus All-American in the history of the school's football program in 1939. [11] The Los Angeles Tribune was especially outspoken, thanks to its African-American sports editor, William Claire "Halley" Harding, a former professional athlete and member of the debate team at Wiley College. [20] He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. Kenny Washington, byname of Kenneth S. Washington, (born August 31, 1918, Los Angeles, California, U.S.—died June 24, 1971, Los Angeles), one of the first African American college gridiron football stars on the West Coast and one of two black players to reintegrate the National Football League (NFL) in 1946. He died on June 24, 1971 in Los Angeles, California. In a league where the overwhelming majority of players are African-American, you can't deny what he has meant to the league. [2] From 1940 to 1945, Washington played for the Hollywood Bears of the Pacific Coast Professional Football League, where he was the league's highest-paid player. Washington died of polyarteritis nodosa on June 24, 1971, at the age of 52 in Los Angeles, California. Washington retired from the NFL following the 1948 season. [4], Washington was a staunch Republican in his younger years and strongly supported Richard Nixon's 1950 U.S. Senate campaign. One story has it that Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher wanted to offer Washington a contract to play for the team, but only if he went to Puerto Rico first, which Washington refused to do. Which is quite an amazing feat if you consider the fact that Washington broke the color barrier in the modern NFL a full year before Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. [6] Despite these achievements and the fact that he also doubled as a defensive back, he was named to second-team All-America selection instead of the first and was omitted from the East–West Shrine Game that year. [16][page needed], After retirement from football, Washington returned to the LAPD. As mentioned previously, the legacy of Kenny Washington seemingly disappeared almost as quickly as he came into the league. [2] As a result, the team signed Washington on March 21, 1946, followed by Strode on May 7. Washington, Strode, and Robinson made up three of the four backfield players that year. I am asking you, the members of the senior committee, to nominate Washington for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Instead, his accomplishments come from those who are given an opportunity today because of what Washington did years ago. It's an honor that has been long overdue. Unfortunately, the motivation behind the signings of these players was not the same. His passing followed a period of declining health that included a months-long battle with inoperable Stage IV pancreatic cancer. The Rams played at the LA Coliseum which was a city-owned facility. [1] He was posthumously inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. Click to view Kenny Washington, first African American in the NFL. Washington played just three seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, but his legacy has stood for a lifetime. This was a rarity to have so many African Americans when … Washington, Strode and two other men broke through pro football's unofficial color barrier that season. [12], Prior to his first NFL season Washington underwent surgery in both knees (his fifth knee surgery overall – as a child he contracted rickets and was once hit by car[4]), having torn cartilage removed from his left knee and what was characterized in the press as "a growth" from his right. Kenny Washington received numerous honors but they were primarily related to his time at UCLA. He was a star running backa Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles In college at UCLA, he rushed for 1,914 yards in his college career, a school record for 34 years. These are the stories about the NFL I would like to share with future generations. The Redskins once referred to Houston as "pro football's most underrated super-star," but his capabilities were widely recognized. The Rams haven't even retired his number. [2] He was a star at both baseball and football at Abraham Lincoln High School,[3] where he was nicknamed "Kingfish" after a character in the radio show Amos 'n' Andy. played. In a memo obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the NFL informed clubs Friday of a slew of new pre-2021 NFL Draft rules relating to hosting and interacting with draft-eligible players. However, for many years, Washington was ignored by the NFL and the story of professional football's postwar integration received little attention. Kenneth S. Washington (August 31, 1918 – June 24, 1971) was an American professional football player who was the first African-American to sign a contract with a National Football League (NFL) team in the modern (post-World War II) era. [4], In football, his position was tailback, and he often passed as much as he rushed. Kenny Washington Honors. The Rams signed Woody Strode and Hall of Famer Kenny Washington, both who played at UCLA. This year's group of AFA Hall of Famers will be enshrined as the “Class of 2014” during the AFA's 34th Annual Semi-Pro/Minor League Football Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 2121 George Halas Drive NW, Canton, Ohio 44708. Pacific Coast Professional Football League, List of NCAA major college football yearly total offense leaders, "The NFL was segregated, until Kenny Washington broke the color barrier in Los Angeles", "Forgotten hero: Washington broke NFL's color barrier in 1946", "Teammates Recall Jackie Robinson's Legacy", "First American NFL Players Helped Break Down Barriers", "Los Angeles and the Reintegration of the NFL", "Los Angeles Coliseum Court of Honor Plaques", "Remembering forgotten hero Kenny Washington", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kenny_Washington_(American_football)&oldid=1001421889, Players of American football from Los Angeles, Burials at Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, Pages containing links to subscription-only content, Short description is different from Wikidata, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, NFL player missing current team parameter, Infobox NFL biography articles missing alt text and caption, Infobox NFL biography articles with old NFL.com URL, Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from March 2019, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Career statistics and player information from, This page was last edited on 19 January 2021, at 16:30. It should start and finish with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All other NFL-related trademarks are trademarks of the National Football League. An honor that has long eluded him. He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956 [22] and his number 13 jersey was the first to be retired at UCLA. If the goal of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to preserve its history, we need to start right now with Washington. Fullback Marion Motley and guard Bill Willis played for the champion Cleveland Browns in the fledgling All-America Football Conference, and both are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Class of 2021 will be enshrined on Sunday, Aug. 8, in Canton. After excelling for six years with the Oilers, Ken was traded to the Redskins for five veteran players in 1973. Kenny Washington: The First to Sign an NFL Contract. [23] His alma mater Lincoln High School has annually awarded the Kenny Washington Trophy to the school's best football player since 1949. [14] When he retired in 1948, 80,000 people attended his final game and the entire stadium gave him a standing ovation. Washington died of polyarteritis nodosa on June 24, 1971, at the age of 52 in Los Angeles, California. He was an actor, known for Pinky (1949), Easy Living (1949) and The Jackie Robinson Story (1950). What he did can be measured in rushing titles and Pro Bowl bids, but not those in his name directly. He was one of four African American players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team, the others being Woody Strode, Robinson, and Ray Bartlett. The night before Nixon's crushing victory over Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, the candidate – a great football fan – spent the evening at Washington's south Los Angeles home playing music and trying to relax. 13 jersey was retired by UCLA in 1956, and that same year Washington was inducted into the College Hall of Fame. Kenny Washington went on to become the first football player at UCLA to have his uniform retired and was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956. Kenny “Kingfish” Washington … The NFL had a ban on black players from 1934 through 1946, but when the Cleveland Rams wanted to relocate to Los Angeles, one of the conditions was the team had to be integrated. Kenny Washington of Beaufort has been named to the S.C. Two months after being fired by the Lions, Matt Patricia is returning to the New England Patriots in a new role that will combine scouting and working with the Patriots' coaching staff, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday. Ezzrett Anderson and Washington's UCLA teammate Strode were also on that team. NFL and the NFL shield design are registered trademarks of the National Football League.The team names, logos and uniform designs are registered trademarks of the teams indicated. [8] He also worked for a grocery store chain and a whiskey distributor, and was a part-time scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where his son Kenny Jr. In fact, it still endures today. Electing Kenny Washington to the Hall of Fame also sends the message to students like us that being brave, overcoming obstacles and standing up for what is … [4], Washington attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was a member of both the Bruins' baseball and football teams. Kenny Washington, Class: Induction: 1956 Sport(s): - Ken Washington was the first All-American in the history of the University of California-Los Angeles football Alexander was the undisputed face of the Seahawks, and during his MVP year of 2005, he carried Seattle to its first-ever Super Bowl appearance with 1,880 yards and a then-NFL record 27 rushing touchdowns. It was only fitting that when he was inducted into the College Hall of Fame UCLA retired #13, Kenny Washington’s jersey number. He signed Washington's and Strode's UCLA teammate Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1947.[2]. Inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1956 but not, at this writing, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Washington suffered from circulatory problems in later years. It is highly recommended that you use the latest versions of a supported browser in order to receive an optimal viewing experience. [2] Washington rushed for 9,975 yards in his college career, a school record for 56 years. Enter Washington, who was a local hero at UCLA during the late 1930s. [1] Edgar "Blue" Washington, who played Negro league baseball, was his father but he was raised by his grandmother Susie and his uncle Rocky, the first black uniformed lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Each player will receive a Hall of Fame plaque based on the pithy ones that the Hall used to use back at the start. The second black player to be inducted in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame, Motley joined in 1968. With the historic playoff meeting finally about to happen on Championship Sunday, NFL Research's Matt Okada charts why Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have never met in the playoffs before. There is some vague recollection of Washington throughout the league. He ran head-first into not only defenders who didn't want him in the game, but also the civil rights movement. The 1939 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1939. It doesn't take an exhaustive Google search to find stories of players misbehaving. The following browsers are supported: Chrome, Edge (v80 and later), Firefox and Safari. Why? But where Jackie Robinson could avoid the baseballs thrown at him, Washington was given the ball. If … Kenneth S. Washington was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the city's Lincoln Heights neighborhood. Other black athletes who would come after him would endure a similar plight. © 2021 NFL Enterprises LLC. After leading Lincoln High School to a city title as a junior and state championship as a senior, he went on to star at UCLA, where he shared a backfield with Woody Strode and Jackie Robinson. One reason is because for most of the 20th century, baseball was by far the top sport in the U.S., and another was that his NFL career was a short three years. Inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. And that's just wrong. He had one son, Kenny Jr., who played professional baseball. Tickets for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 and 2021 Enshrinement ceremonies and various events surrounding the ceremonies will be on-sale at a later date. Along with Kenny Washington… So I leave it to you, to please consider Kenny Washington for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. UCLA teammates have commented how strong Washington was when confronted with racial slurs and discrimination. [4] Instead, Washington coached football at UCLA and joined the LAPD. [2], According to Time magazine's coverage of the 1940 College All-Star Game, Washington was "considered by West Coast fans the most brilliant player in the US last year. The Hall of Fame needs to acknowledge, recognize, celebrate and honor Kenny Washington’s contribution. [23] His alma mater Lincoln High School has annually awarded the Kenny Washington Trophy to the school's best football player since 1949. For his contribution to sports in Los Angeles, he was honored with a Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum "Court of Honor" plaque by the Coliseum commissioners. [1] He was posthumously inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame Selection Committee will meet on January 19 to vote. One of only two players (with Hall of Famer Marcus Allen) to win Heisman Trophy, AP Rookie of the Year, AP Player of the Year and a Super Bowl title in his career. It is time for us to rectify that. [2] Thanks to his connections from when he had worked at movie studios during his undergraduate years, he was also chosen for a few film roles,[2] including Rope of Sand (1949),[17] Pinky (1949),[18] and The Jackie Robinson Story (1950).[19]. He was one of four African American players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team, the others being Woody Strode, Jackie Robinson and Ray Bartlett. [24] [25] "[7], After graduation, George Halas, who coached the College All-Star Game, indicated interest in Washington for his Chicago Bears team, but was unable to convince the league to permit integration. Born March 21, 1951, he was 65. [5] This was a rarity to have so many African Americans when only a few dozen at all played on college football teams. The humble quarterback is the fourth player from the "Greatest Show" Rams inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in ... but four were signed in 1946 including Kenny Washington … [13] He played for the Rams for three years, but although his injuries had taken their toll, he was still able to lead the league in yards per carry in his second season,[2] and even scored a 92-yard touchdown, which remains the Rams team record for the longest run from scrimmage. It was the first UCLA–USC rivalry football game with national implications. — Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) November 24, 2020 . Every year since 2011, Abraham Lincoln High School holds a memorial football game on the anniversary of Washington's death. As mentioned previously, the legacy of Kenny Washington seemingly disappeared almost as quickly as he came into the league. Pro Football Hall of Fame via AP Images Born on August 31, 1918, Kenny Washington grew up in Los Angeles' Lincoln Heights neighborhood. [8] He earned all-league recognition each year, including his first year when he suffered a knee injury that prevented him from being conscripted for the war. But what Washington accomplished cannot be measured in yards and statistics. He was the first UCLA player to be named All-American. And yet we don't honor Washington. Athletic Hall of Fame.. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection process by-laws provides that between four and eight new members will be selected. Kenny Washington was born on August 31, 1918 in Los Angeles County, California, USA as Kenneth Stanley Washington. [2] In 1945, he did serve in the military on the USO tour as a type of sports ambassador, visiting with troops and playing in exhibition games. [21] He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956[22] and his number 13 jersey was the first to be retired at UCLA. The bronze plaques representing each of the classes inducted are permanently on display at the Vern Riffe Building, 2nd Floor located at 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. [2] He led both teams to city championships in the same calendar year. Strode played college football for the UCLA Bruins, the most integrated collegiate team in the nation in 1939, which included future NFL running back Kenny Washington and future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Jackie Robinson. Major League Baseball and the entire sporting world will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day today, and it's a well-deserved honor for one of our nation's heroes. Alternative Title: Kenneth S. Washington. John Hicks, a 2001 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and a two-time First Team All-American and undeniably one of the most outstanding Ohio State football players of all time, died Oct. 29, 2016, after a long illness. Others might refer to him as the "Jackie Robinson of the NFL." He also became a skillful golfer. “Electing Kenny Washington to the Hall of Fame also sends the message to students like us that being brave, overcoming obstacles and standing up … And as you can imagine, Washington faced racist barbs, bigotry and hatred from opponents, fans and even team owners. The Rams only signed Strode and Washington to avoid a potential lawsuit. Kenny Washington led the nation in total yards in his senior year at UCLA in 1939, but had to wait seven years for the opportunity to play in the NFL. He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956 and his number 13 jersey was the first to be retired at UCLA. Washington DC Bureau; ... Kenny is surrounded by football legends at Pro Football Hall of Fame ... Browns fever captured in ‘ice’ on Fox 8 News in the Morning Video. His No. The 2021 Hall of Fame class will be announced during the “NFL Honors” on the eve of Super Bowl LV. 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