In honor of Black History Month, part two of the documentary Third & Long: The History of African Americans in Pro Football 1946-1989 airs at 8 p.m. tonight on NFL Network.
(Caught the end of part one last night. They were talking about how the AFL and Al Davis recruited the historically black colleges in the 1960s.)
Former players Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Willie Brown and Bobby Mitchell, former head coaches Tony Dungy and Art Shell, owners Jeffrey Lurie and Dan Rooney, and family members, the documentary looks at the history of African-Americans in professional football from 1946-1989.
“It was interesting because I was actually working on a project for ESPN about that iconic photo where Muhammad Ali is surrounded by the athletes of the day, and one of those athletes was Walter Beach III,” Moore said is a release provided by the NFL Network. “We became friends and we started talking about his football career and some of the things that they had gone through. The more he talked and the more he shared with me, I just said to him, ‘Walter, we really need to tell this story, it’s this untold history.’ He connected me to Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Gwen Mitchell because we wanted to make sure that the wives’ perspectives were told as well. It kind of developed from there.”
She had to deal with integration of the Washington Redskins.
“The one that was very interesting was Bobby Mitchell’s whole integration of the Redskins because people don’t understand that it was actually the Kennedy administration that forced the Redskins to integrate,” Moore said. “They told them they couldn’t use the publically funded stadium if they continued to have an all-white team.
“Many people thought that George Preston Marshall would draft Ernie Davis, who had just won the Heisman Trophy, and instead behind the scenes he trades him for Bobby Mitchell and Bobby Mitchell becomes the most prominent black player on the team at that time. But he talks about the challenges he faced integrating the team where literally he tells of being out at dinner where someone comes by and spits on him when he’s out at dinner with his wife and another couple because they don’t want him
Part one will re-air on Saturday at 8.p.m and 12 midnight. Part two will re-air on Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 1 a.m.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog