Payton, Rice among Black College Football HOF inductees

Former Black College football standouts Walter Payton and Jerry Rice and coaches Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither are among the 11-member inaugural induction class of the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

The Black College Hall of Fame, established last year by former quarterbacks James Harris and Doug Williams to honor the greatest players and coaches from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), will honor the inaugural class at its first enshirement ceremony Feb. 20 in Atlanta. The class of eight players, two coaches and one contributor was selected from a field of 260 nominees and 35 finalists.

Payton played at Jackson State from 1971-74 and later finished his pro career as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Payton is already a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

Rice had an All-American career at Mississippi Valley State and went on to set several receiving records in the NFL. Rice is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and a finalist for this year’s Pro Football induction class.

Robinson spent 56 years as the coach at Grambling State University, winning 405 games and nine Black College championships while sending more than 80 players to the NFL and AFL. The award presented annually to the top coach in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) is named in his honor.

Gaither won 203 games and six Black College titles during his 25 seasons at Florida A&M. Gaither was famous for saying he wanted his players ‘agile, mobile and hostile.’

Other members of the induction class include:

Buck Buchanan - three-time Black College All-American defensive end at Grambling State, first player selected in the 1963 NFL draft, member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

Willie Galimore – three-time Black College All-American running back at Florida A&M in the 1950’s, played seven seasons in the NFL.

Deacon Jones - Dominant defensive end while playing for S.C. State and Mississippi Valley from 1958-60, developed into a Hall of Famer during his 14 seasons in the NFL.

Willie Lanier - A two-time All-America linebacker at Morgan State in the 1960s, Lanier went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL and is a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

Ben Stevenson - Earned All-America honors while starring at Tuskegee University in the 1920s.

Tank Younger - All-American running back/linebacker at Grambling State in the 1940s, first HBCU player to play in the NFL and later became the league’s first black front-office executive.

Bill Nunn, Jr. (contributor) – As a former sports writer and managing editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, the driving force behind the paper’s Black College All-America team. Long-time NFL scout with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For more information on the Black College Football Hall of Fame, visit the organization’s website by clicking here.

7 comments Add your comment


January 20th, 2010
2:22 pm

Excellent choices for the 1st Class.

Question: How many HBCU players are NFL Hall of Famers?

Stumped as to why the Black College HOF is virtual? Can’t we generate enough funds to lease a building or build one? Not a good look.


January 20th, 2010
2:26 pm



January 20th, 2010
3:21 pm

I think coach robinson head coach, jerry rice, walter payton should be there. But there are other players I believe should be placed in front of the rest of the guys. You have people like Greg Lloyd in there to. Please look into the CIAA and SIAC a little more please.

Still Standing

January 20th, 2010
4:39 pm

I think this is great HBCU alumni. Being an HBCU alum and former athlete myself, this hall of fame was long over due.


January 20th, 2010
5:15 pm

Tyger: There are 23 former HBCU players in the HOF.


Lem Barney, CB, Jackson State
Elvin Bethea, DE, North Carolina A&T
Mel Blount, CB, Southern
Roosevelt Brown, OT, Morgan State
Willie Brown, Grambling State
Buck Buchanan, DT, Grambling State
Harry Carson, South Carolina State
Willie Davis, DE, Grambling State
Len Ford, DE, Morgan State (1)
Bob Hayes, WR, Florida A&M
Ken Houston, SS, Prairie View A&M
Charlie Joiner, WR, Grambling State
Deacon Jones, DE, S. C. State State/Miss. Valley State
Leroy Kelly, RB, Morgan State
Willie Lanier, LB, Morgan State
Larry Little, OG, Bethune-Cookman
Marion Motley, FB, South Carolina State (2)
Walter Payton, RB, Jackson State
Art Shell, OT, Maryland-Eastern Shore
Jackie Slater, OT, Jackson State
John Stallworth, WR, Alabama A&M
Emmitt Thomas, CB, Bishop College
Rayfield Wright, OT, Fort Valley State

(1) Ford transferred to the University of Michigan after one year.
(2) Motley transferred to the University of Nevada-Reno after one year.


January 20th, 2010
5:31 pm

Great there are so many great player out there that continue to be over looked for their great play and accomplishments and now i am glad to say that i know no longer with the great player that do spesial things have a place to take their children and say this is what i did and I was honored for that and the world will remember me for this


January 23rd, 2010
2:33 pm

I think it is great for these athletes to get the recognition that they deserve. I think it’s great that the best Black College players and coaches have a place to call their own. And thank you Leo for doing such a great job with this blog.

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