Kenny Washington Paved Way for Black Players in NFL

Lots of kids know about Jackie Robinson and how in 1947 he became the first African American to play Major League Baseball. However, not as many kids or adults, know about Kenny Washington. Kenny Washington was the Jackie Robinson of the NFL. When the NFL first started in the 1920s, a handful of African Americans played in the new league. From 1934 to 1946, there were no black players in the NFL. There wasn’t an official rule against them, but the teams would not want African Americans into the league. Some owners and coaches claimed that African Americans were not good enough for the NFL, which is hard to believe, especially considering that nine African American college football players were named all-American stars during those years. Still, none were drafted, even though the NFL had 10 teams in 1940 and each team drafted 20 players. For the next few seasons, Washington played in the smaller Pacific Coast Football League, where he earned all-league honors every year. Washington finally got his chance to play in the NFL in 1946. The Cleveland Rams had relocated to Los Angeles. The Rams agreed to allow African American players on the team after local black newspapers and the city’s stadium commission pressured the team to integrate (mix black and white players).

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