Fritz Pollard Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
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Childhood and Early Life
American football player and coach Fritz Pollard was born Frederick Douglass Pollard on the 27 January 1894 in Chicago. His mother, Catherine Amanda Hughs, was Native American and his father, John Willliam Pollard, was an African-American.
Fritz Pollard graduated from Lane Tech High School. During his time at high school, he showed athletic ability as track champion, a baseball and football player. In 1915, he enrolled at Brown University after being awarded a Rockefeller scholarship.
Fritz Pollard was the first African-American to play in the Rose Bowl (1915) He also had the distinction of being the second African-American college football player to be named an All-American. In 1916, Pollard was instrumental in taking Brown to back-to-back wins over Yale University and Harvard University.
Rise to Fame
Initially, after graduating from Brown University, Fritz Pollard studied briefly towards a degree in dentistry. During World War I, he enlisted and worked as a director of a U.S. Army YMCA. Later, he coached football at Lincoln University. Pollard joined the Ohio Akron Pros in 1919. In 1920, the Akron Pros became part of the American Professional Football Association, which was renamed the National Football League in 1922.
Fritz Pollard led Akron Pros to a championship in 1920. He was appointed the first African-American head coach in the National Football League coaching the Akron Pros (1920-1921) and (1925-1926). He also coached other NFL teams: the Milwaukee Badgers (1922), the Hammond Pros (1923 and 1925) and the Providence Steam Roller (1925) and the Brown Bombers (1935-1938). During 1923 and 1924, he played for the Gilberton Cadamounts, an independent pro team.
After his retirement from football, Fritz Pollard went on to become involved in music production, business consulting and also published a newspaper, the New York Independent News.
Fritz Pollard was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in 1954. In 1967, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Brown University awarded him an honorary doctorate (1981). The Fritz Pollard Alliance was founded in 2003 by a group of National Football League personnel. The focus of the alliance is to open up more opportunities for people of colour to coach and administer the game. In 2005, Pollard was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Fritz Pollard married Ada Laing in 1914. They had four children, a son, and three daughters.
They divorced in 1940, and he married Mary Ella Austin in 1947. Fritz Pollard died of pneumonia, aged 92, on the 11 May 1896.