Eddie Macon should be a local legend, but many of us do not even know who he is. Not only did he have 9 interceptions in the Oakland Raider's inaugural season, he also led the University of Pacific's 1949 football team to an undefeated season in which they finished #10 in the National Polls.
Macon was born and raised in Stockton CA, where he attended Stockton High and UOP.
His life seemed to be destined for cruelty. He lost his father to a black widow bite when he was only a year and a half old, then he lost his mother when he was only 14 years old. His 1949 UOP team was not allowed to play in a Bowl Game because they had him on the team and the games were played in the South. Then, in the NFL, he was black-balled by noneother than George Halas for leaving the Bears and playing for more money in Canada.
Here is a quote which I found to be quite poignant: From Andy Piascik's Gridiron Gauntlet
"Every day when I wake up. I know that I'm black. I knew that when I was a young kid and I know it today. I wake up and I say to myself, "Good morning, cruel world, how are you going to screw me today?" Hardly a day has gone by in my life where something has not happened to let me know that I am black."
After being drafted in the 2nd Round by the Chicago Bears he saw very little action in his first two seasons. he amassed 70 attempts and 324 yards rushing while catching 14 passes for 49 yards.
His early days with the Bears were really tough. At 5'11" and only 150 lbs soaking wet, he looked like an easy target, but, as they say, he played bigger than his size and was a tough hombre. In reality it was not his size that made it tough on him in his first training camp, it was the other players. They constantly badgered him for being black and even wrote messages in the locker room like "Macon Go Home" and "Macon We Don't Want You"
In what is supposed to be a band of brothers, I don't know that I could take this. I guess that after all that Eddie had already been through in his life, this was much easier to deal with, though not easy at all.
It should have come as no surprise that when the Calgary Stampeders offered Eddie more money that he would leave this team, but that did NOT sit well with George Halas. he blackballed Eddie and then sued him for $100,000.
Halas' grudge toward Macon never did die down, in fact, to this day the Bears have not even acknowledged his presence.
His last hoorah was with the AFL, as an Oakland Raider in 1960. His 9 picks led him to the All-Pro team, but after Oakland told him that they were going with younger guys he decided to hang them up for good.
It really is a shame that Halas blackballed him the way he did because we will never know just how great Eddie Macon could have been if he were allowed to sign with the 49ers or Browns after his first season in Canada.
To this day, Eddie still works 3 days a week as a dock worker in SF and Oakland. In fact, we may have even met him at the NFL Draft party last year, we just didn't know who he was. I guarantee that we will know him next time and I will invite him to join us if he'd like. He deserves it.