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Once the NFL became successful, African Americans were not allowed to participate, but that was to change forever for the better. As the NFL grew more popular in the United States the league decided it would be better to promote the sport by appealing to the racial views of the time. They made the NFL segregated, but soon had to face the fact that African American players deserved to compete along with the other players. One by one, African American players tore down the color barrier and now dominante the National Football league. While it was very difficult for black athletes to make it into the NFL, they overcame the challenges and now  dominate the league.The NFL was not initially segregated.Before the Segregation”The NFL didn’t start in 1920 as a segregated sports league. Up until 1933, 17 African Americans had played in the league. But then, team owners decided to bar blacks from the field (Lee). The NFL did not start segregated but as it grew more popular, blacks were not allowed to participate (Lee).Segregation in the League But from 1934 to 1946, there were no black players in the NFL. There  wasn’t an official rule against them, but there was an unwritten understanding among the teams. The teams would not allow African Americans into the league. No NFL teams wanted to allow African Americans on their teams (Brown). It may have been because no team really wanted to be the first team to do so (Brown).One reason was because team owners said that African Americans weren’t good enough.Some owners and coaches claimed that African Americans were not good enough for the NFL. That’s hard to believe, especially considering that nine African American college football players were named all-American stars during those years (Brown).Team owners claimed that black players were not as good as the white players to play in the league. However, this is not true because nine players were recognized for their talent. NFL owners tried to discredit the African American players in order to justify their decision (Brown).Club Sport Football African-Americans did play professional football in its earliest days when it was still a club sport. But, by 1933, football was becoming big business and iblacks were not welcomed (Patmus). African Americans played club football but when the sport became a bigger business and more popular, they were not allowed to participate in theiNational League (Patmus).The Great Depression effect on the NFL The Great Depression served to widen the racial rift between whites and blacks. “There was a feeling that blacks were taking away the jobs of whites … so they didn’t want that on the football field” (Lee).The Great Depression was a cause of the segregation of the NFL because they worried that the African Americans would take away jobs from the white players (Lee).Kenny Washington was the first African American Player to be drafted.In 1946 Kenny Washington and Woody Strode from University of California, Los Angeles. both were drafted to play under the LA Rams in the NFL (“First African-American”).. The Rams drafted two African American players in 1946, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode. The LA Rams were the first team in the NFL to draft black players (“First African-American”).. Kenny Washington was actually the first African-American to sign a contract in 1946 with an NFL team. He came out of UCLA, where he played alongside two other great black football players, Woody Strode and nother player whose name you may recognize, Jackie Robinson (Patmus).Kenny Washington was the first African American player in the NFL. He signed his contract in 1946.Despite Washington’s incredible college career, no NFL team drafted him in 1940. For the next few seasons, Washington played in the smaller Pacific Coast Football League, where he earned all-league honors every year (Brown).Kenny Washington had an incredible college career with outstanding performance statistics but no NFL team drafted him because of his skin color. The NFL held to their racist views and did not recognize Kenny Washington as apart of their brand (Brown).Not as many kids — or adults — know about Kenny Washington. But Kenny Washington was the Jackie Robinson of the National Football League. Jackie Robinson was a famous baseball player. He was the first black person to play in the Major League Baseball League (Brown).On March 21, 1946, Kenny Washington, a former star running back for the Bruins, suited up for the Los Angeles Rams, ending the National Football League’s ban that had kept blacks from playing in the league for 13 years (Lee).Other African American players who followed after Kenny WashingtonFirst famous black football players.Willis was an All-Pro selection in every season he played in the NFL. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. Like the other men who broke the color barrier, Willis endured a lot of taunts and threats. But his contributions were momentous. Willis was an All-Pro selection in every season of his career in the NFL and had many awards (“First African-American”).Motley played for the University of Nevada Wolf Pack from 1941-1943 and then spent time in the military. He joined the Cleveland Browns in 1946 along with Bill Willis, and together, they led the Browns to five consecutive championships(“First African-American”).  TunnellIn 1948, the New York Giants drafted Emlen Tunnell, and the Detroit Lions drafted Melvin Groomes, and Bob Mann. These two teams were the second and third in the NFL to draft African Americans onto to their roster (Pesca).Tunnell was soon lured away to the worst team in football, but the Green Bay Packers’ new coach and Giants former coordinator, Vince Lombardi, knew that he needed Tunnell’s leadership. Tunnell’s final game was the Packers’ first championship under Lombardi (Pesca).Emlen Tunnell was the first black player voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also the first defensive specialist elected to the Hall of Fame, the first African American to be a scout and the first African American on a coaching staff. He played his last game 50 years ago.  (Pesca).In conclusion, through hard work and persistence, African American players rose above the racial divide in the National Football League. Along with many difficulties, they were able to break through the color barrier and become the most prominent figures in the National Football League. Today, African Americans dominate the league and are the most achieving race in the sport.

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