ABOVE: Michael Strahan NFL Hall of Famer and Texas Southern Grad
The NFL joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia recently to kick off their enhanced partnership.
The initiative – Strength of HBCUs, Impacting Pro Football Since 1948 – will celebrate and honor the history and impact HBCUs and their players have had on the game, and work to increase career opportunities for students and athletic administrators at these institutions.
The celebration of the legacy and impact of HBCUs and their players will continue at Super Bowl LI in Houston, the NFL announced recently.
The NFL will carry on the tradition of honoring Legends and historic players at Super Bowl by recognizing Pro Football Hall of Fame players who attended HBCUs, including Jerry Rice, Michael Strahan And Aeneas Williams, and many more. The celebration will culminate with an on-field, pregame ceremony with these players at NRG Stadium on Sunday, February 5, 2017.
“The HBCU influence on the NFL goes beyond the evolution of the game and reaches deep into the very fabric of football, and we are honored to celebrate their achievements at Super Bowl LI in Houston,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. “Our partnership with the HBCUs is an important initiative which celebrates the tremendous legacy fostered by these institutions that continue to contribute a standard of excellence and character for our game.”
Hosted in conjunction with the Celebration Bowl, the inaugural NFL Careers in Football Forum introduced 80 students and entry-level athletic department administrators from the 23 MEAC and SWAC institutions to career opportunities in professional football. The event featured panel discussions with NFL and Club executives, resume and skill building workshops, and a behind-the scenes look into football operations on game day.
The NFL has a longstanding relationship with HBCUs, which have developed some of the greats of the game. 29 of the 303 members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame attended HBCUs. Earlier this year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF) and the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF), announced a partnership that will result in a permanent home for the BCFHOF as part of the new Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village on the PFHOF’s campus in Canton, Ohio, adding to the history and association of HBCUs and their players’ influence on the game.
Houston native Michael Strahan, who was a star Super Bowl champion over his 15-year NFL career, was drafted by the New York Giants in 1993, after having a stellar All-American career at Houston-based HBCU – Texas Southern University. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2014. Strahan will be one of the many honorees acknowledged during Super Bowl LI as part of their newly created initiative to acknowledge the
contributions of all former HBCU football players that have been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, and who had stellar football careers at various HBCUs across the country.
The list of the other 28 other Pro Football Hall of Fame members who will be recognized along with Strahan at Super Bowl LI, include: Lem Barney, Jackson State; Elvin Bethea, North Carolina A&T; Mel Blount, Southern University; Roosevelt Brown, Morgan State; Willie Brown, Grambling State; Buck Buchanan, Grambling State; Harry Carson, South Carolina State; Willie Davis, Grambling State; Richard Dent, Tennessee State; Bob Hayes, Florida A&M; Claude Humphrey, Tennessee State; Len Ford, Morgan State; Bob Hayes, Florida A&M; Ken Houston, Prairie View A&M; Charlie Joiner, Grambling State; Deacon Jones, Mississippi Valley State; Leroy Kelly, Morgan State; Willie Lanier, Morgan State; Larry Little, Bethune Cookman; Walter Payton, Jackson State; Jerry Rice, Mississippi Valley State; Shannon Sharpe, Savannah State; Art Shell, University Of Maryland Eastern Shore; Jackie Slater, Jackson State; John Stallworth, Alabama A&M; Emmitt Thomas, Bishop; Aeneas Williams, Southern University; Rayfield Wright, Fort Valley State.
In addition to the Hall of Fame players, NFL Legends and former Grambling State players, Doug Williams and the late Paul “Tank” Younger, will also be honored in Houston for their legendary achievements and profound impact on the game.
To learn more about the partnership and the HBCU players that impacted the game, watch the NFL Films-produced tribute – https://youtu.be/fesPPn1mFKs.