After excelling for six years with the Oilers, Ken was traded to the Redskins for five veteran players in 1973. It is highly recommended that you use the latest versions of a supported browser in order to receive an optimal viewing experience. That's why it's important to recognize men like Washington. 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. [4], In football, his position was tailback, and he often passed as much as he rushed. [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. [2] Washington rushed for 9,975 yards in his college career, a school record for 56 years. [5] This was a rarity to have so many African Americans when only a few dozen at all played on college football teams. 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. Following his athletic career, Washington was affiliated with the Los Angeles Police Department. It doesn't take an exhaustive Google search to find stories of players misbehaving. Some might nod when they hear the name. 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. Pro Football Hall of Fame via AP Images Born on August 31, 1918, Kenny Washington grew up in Los Angeles' Lincoln Heights neighborhood. There is some vague recollection of Washington throughout the league. His alma mater Lincoln High School has annually awarded the Kenny Washington Trophy to the school's best football player since 1949. He died on June 24, 1971 in Los Angeles, California. “Electing Kenny Washington to the Hall of Fame also sends the message to students like us that being brave, overcoming obstacles and standing up … 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. That sounds rather heroic to me. As mentioned previously, the legacy of Kenny Washington seemingly disappeared almost as quickly as he came into the league. If … [8] Neither Washington nor Strode has been inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although both Marion Motley and Bill Willis of the AAFC's and NFL's Cleveland Browns have received that honor. Athletic Hall of Fame.. [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. What he did can be measured in rushing titles and Pro Bowl bids, but not those in his name directly. Why? The following browsers are supported: Chrome, Edge (v80 and later), Firefox and Safari. UCLA teammates have commented how strong Washington was when confronted with racial slurs and discrimination. The Rams haven't even retired his number. 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 … This was a rarity to have so many African Americans when … This should be an embarrassment for us. Kenny Washington received numerous honors but they were primarily related to his time at UCLA. [9][10], When the Cleveland Rams moved to Los Angeles, the team sought to play in the publicly owned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – a decision which created immediate pressure that the team be racially integrated, since black taxpayers as well as white had paid for construction of the facility. 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. [4], Washington was a staunch Republican in his younger years and strongly supported Richard Nixon's 1950 U.S. Senate campaign. [4] Instead, Washington coached football at UCLA and joined the LAPD. Too often we confuse excellence with numbers. Washington, Strode and two other men broke through pro football's unofficial color barrier that season. [2] He led both teams to city championships in the same calendar year. 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. The Rams signed Woody Strode and Hall of Famer Kenny Washington, both who played at UCLA. 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. He was posthumously inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. The Class of 2021 will be enshrined on Sunday, Aug. 8, in Canton. 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. A man who had to endure many cheap shots at the bottom of a pile up, yet still stood tall. 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. 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. He signed Washington's and Strode's UCLA teammate Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1947.[2]. 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. 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. [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]. [24] [25] The day is also a tad bittersweet because it comes with a reminder that we, as football historians, have dropped the ball for one of our own, Kenny Washington. [2] As a result, the team signed Washington on March 21, 1946, followed by Strode on May 7. 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. NFL footage © NFL Productions LLC. [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. [1] He was posthumously inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. Click to view Kenny Washington, first African American in the NFL. It's an honor that has been long overdue. The Redskins once referred to Houston as "pro football's most underrated super-star," but his capabilities were widely recognized. [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. He had one son, Kenny Jr., who played professional baseball. 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 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. — Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) November 24, 2020 . Kenneth S. Washington was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the city's Lincoln Heights neighborhood. Kenny Washington was born on August 31, 1918 in Los Angeles County, California, USA as Kenneth Stanley Washington. The browser you are using is no longer supported on this site. Each player will receive a Hall of Fame plaque based on the pithy ones that the Hall used to use back at the start. Washington played just three seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, but his legacy has stood for a lifetime. On Thursday November 7, 2019 in Dublin, Ohio, 20 Ohio Veterans were inducted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2019. And as you can imagine, Washington faced racist barbs, bigotry and hatred from opponents, fans and even team owners. The Hall of Fame needs to acknowledge, recognize, celebrate and honor Kenny Washington’s contribution. 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. He immediately became one of the biggest stars for the Los Angeles Rams. Kenny Washington: The First to Sign an NFL Contract. [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. 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. Along with Kenny Washington… He played college football for the UCLA Bruins. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. The second black player to be inducted in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame, Motley joined in 1968. However, for many years, Washington was ignored by the NFL and the story of professional football's postwar integration received little attention. And yet we don't honor Washington. 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. 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. [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. [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 Honors. 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. Major League Baseball continually celebrates the contributions of Jackie Robinson, its first African-American player, but the NFL's pioneer -- Kenny Washington -- isn't in the Hall of Fame. He was the first UCLA player to be named All-American. As mentioned previously, the legacy of Kenny Washington seemingly disappeared almost as quickly as he came into the league. "[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. I am asking you, the members of the senior committee, to nominate Washington for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Born March 21, 1951, he was 65. 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. Instead, his accomplishments come from those who are given an opportunity today because of what Washington did years ago. Washington died of polyarteritis nodosa on June 24, 1971, at the age of 52 in Los Angeles, California. Alternative Title: Kenneth S. Washington. 13 jersey was retired by UCLA in 1956, and that same year Washington was inducted into the College Hall of Fame. 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. But what Washington accomplished cannot be measured in yards and statistics. Other black athletes who would come after him would endure a similar plight. [4], Washington attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was a member of both the Bruins' baseball and football teams. It was only fitting that when he was inducted into the College Hall of Fame UCLA retired #13, Kenny Washington’s jersey number. These slights were the source of much outrage among media outlets which blamed them on racial discrimination. His passing followed a period of declining health that included a months-long battle with inoperable Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. [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. Washington retired from the NFL following the 1948 season. 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. He ran head-first into not only defenders who didn't want him in the game, but also the civil rights movement. An honor that has long eluded him. 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. [16][page needed], After retirement from football, Washington returned to the LAPD. The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection process by-laws provides that between four and eight new members will be selected. In fact, it still endures today. It should start and finish with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 2021 Hall of Fame class will be announced during the “NFL Honors” on the eve of Super Bowl LV. Others might refer to him as the "Jackie Robinson of the NFL." He was an actor, known for Pinky (1949), Easy Living (1949) and The Jackie Robinson Story (1950). If the goal of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to preserve its history, we need to start right now with Washington. But where Jackie Robinson could avoid the baseballs thrown at him, Washington was given the ball. So I leave it to you, to please consider Kenny Washington for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Rams played at the LA Coliseum which was a city-owned facility. 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. It is time for us to rectify that. Every year since 2011, Abraham Lincoln High School holds a memorial football game on the anniversary of Washington's death. 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. Washington, Strode, and Robinson made up three of the four backfield players that year. [14] When he retired in 1948, 80,000 people attended his final game and the entire stadium gave him a standing ovation. The "Forgotten Four" reviews the spectacular football career of Kenny Washington. And that's just wrong. We continue our essay series with No. [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. 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. 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. 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. The Hall of Fame Selection Committee will meet on January 19 to vote. [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. [6] The Bruins played eventual conference and national champion USC to a 0–0 tie with the 1940 Rose Bowl on the line. These are the stories about the NFL I would like to share with future generations. [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. Enter Washington, who was a local hero at UCLA during the late 1930s. 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. [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). [23] His alma mater Lincoln High School has annually awarded the Kenny Washington Trophy to the school's best football player since 1949. 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. Washington entered a league that was not quite ready for integration. Kenny “Kingfish” Washington … Kenny Washington of Beaufort has been named to the S.C. [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. Washington, Strode, and Robinson starred on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team, in which they made up three of the four backfield players. In a league where the overwhelming majority of players are African-American, you can't deny what he has meant to the league. [20] He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. [23] His alma mater Lincoln High School has annually awarded the Kenny Washington Trophy to the school's best football player since 1949. 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. He also became a skillful golfer. It was the first UCLA–USC rivalry football game with national implications. Unfortunately, the motivation behind the signings of these players was not the same. [1] He was posthumously inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. [15] However, in the 1960 presidential election, Washington voted for John F. Kennedy instead of Nixon and tended to vote for Democrats for the rest of his life, but he never declared a political party affiliation. The Rams only signed Strode and Washington to avoid a potential lawsuit. Official release Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announces eligible candidates for Class of 2021 The Hall of Fame is planning 2 separate enshrinement ceremonies in … 16, Kenny Lofton. 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. As a baseball player, Washington was rated better than his teammate Jackie Robinson. © 2021 NFL Enterprises LLC. He was one of four African American players on the 1939 UCLA Bruins football team, the others being Woody Strode, Robinson, and Ray Bartlett. Ezzrett Anderson and Washington's UCLA teammate Strode were also on that team. All other NFL-related trademarks are trademarks of the National Football League. played. His No. Not only is Washington's exclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame egregious, it also goes against the core values of the Pro Football Hall of Fame itself. 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. Washington died of polyarteritis nodosa on June 24, 1971, at the age of 52 in Los Angeles, California. 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. 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