As a writer, I am sometimes sent books to read and review, if I so choose. Every once in a while a book comes through that I want to read and Andy Piascik's tale of twelve men who integrated Pro Football post World War II, Gridiron Gauntlet is such a book.
In every sport I hold a special place for the players who know about the past and give credit to those who have come before them. I wonder if Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson or Terrell Owens know who Bob Mann is? Or, if Michael Vick has ever heard of George Taliaferro? I also wonder if it would make a difference in their lives if they did.
I am not black, but I am sympathetic to the trials and tribulations that African-Americans have endured and am A-Mazed when I consider that it was only 36 years ago that The Washington Redskins allowed black players to join their team.
It is hard for me to believe that a team which has produced three of the greatest black players of my time, Dexter Manley, Art Monk and Darrell Green were the most racist franchise in the NFL. Then again, I was born in the Bay Area in 1972 and have never witnessed segregation. And, they are still called the Redskins.
"One year before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball in 1947, four black players joined the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams to become the first professional football players of African American descent in the modern era. While blacks had played on professional teams in the early days of pro football, none had joined a team since 1934.
In Gridiron Gauntlet, twelve players who began their careers from 1946 to 1955 share their stories-reminiscing not only about the violence they faced on and off the field, the segregated hotels and restaurants, and the general hostility that comes with being a trailblazer, but also about white players and coaches who assisted and supported them at various stages of theri lives. Among the oral histories presented here are thoise of such pro football icons as Bobby Watkins, Joe Perry and George Taliaferro."
I am hoping that by bringing some light to this book, perhaps, some of you will read it and maybe even better, some of our young players in the NFL will read it and really get a feel for those who came before them.
This is the intro in what will be a 13 week review of the book and each player. This book has opened my eyes and I want to research each of the 12 men interviewed here as well as a few who have already passed on.
Here are the names of the twelve men who told their stories, in their own words, for this epic novel.
John Brown, Bob Mann, Joe Perry, Sherman Howard, George Taliaferro, Emerson Cole, Charlie Powell, Eddie Macon, Harold Bradley, Eddie Bell, Henry Ford and Bobby Watkins.
For those of you who wish to follow along you can buy the book online.