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Frederick Douglass Pollard
Fritz Pollard.jpg
Date of birth (1894-01-27)January 27, 1894
Place of birth Chicago, Illinois
Date of death May 11, 1986(1986-05-11) (aged 92)
Place of death Silver Spring, Maryland
Career highlights
Coaching Record / Statistics
Career player statistics (if any)
Stats at
Team(s) as a player (if any)
Team(s) as a coach/administrator (if any)
College Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame,

Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard (January 27, 1894 – May 11, 1986) was the first African American head coach in the National Football League (NFL). Pollard along with Bobby Marshall were the first two African American players in the NFL in 1920. Sportswriter Walter Camp ranked Pollard as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen."

Early life[]

Pollard graduated from Lane Tech high school in Chicago where he ran track. Pollard played college football at Brown University, graduating in 1919. He played in the 1916 Rose Bowl.

Pollard was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[1]

Pollard eloped with Ada Laing in 1914, after having rented a room from his father the year before.[2] Ada was the granddaughter of Daniel Laing, Jr., one of the first African American physicians in the U.S.

Professional football player[]

He later played pro football with the Akron Pros, the team he would lead to the NFL (APFA) championship in 1920. In 1921, he became the co-head coach of the Akron Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back. He also played for the Milwaukee Badgers, Hammond Pros, Gilberton Cadamounts, Union Club of Phoenixville and Providence Steam Roller. Some sources indicate that Pollard also served as co-coach of the Milwaukee Badgers with Al Garrett for part of the 1922 season. He also coached the non NFL team Gilberton in 1923 and is believed to have had some coaching duties with Hammond in 1923 as well.

Pollard, along with all nine of the black players in the NFL at the time, were removed from the league at the end of the 1926 season, never to return again. He spent some time organizing all-black barnstorming teams, including the Chicago Black Hawks in 1928 and the Harlem Brown Bombers in the 1930s.


In 2005, Fritz Pollard was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He appears as a free agent in Madden NFL 09 and is also a part of the game's Hall of Fame feature.

Pollard's son Fritz Pollard, Jr. won the bronze medal for 110 m hurdles at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.[1]

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group promoting minority hiring throughout the NFL, is named for Pollard.

Brown University and the Black Coaches & Administrators co-sponsor the annual Fritz Pollard Award, which is presented to the college or professional coach chosen by the BCA as coach of the year.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Alpha Athletes at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Retrieved on January 10, 2010.
  2. Carroll, John M. (1998), Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement, University of Illinois Press, p. 50, Template:ISBN .
  3. Brown University - Brown University and the Black Coaches Association establish annual Fritz Pollard Award February 18, 2004

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