The Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF) and the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) have announced a historic partnership that provides the BCFHOF with a permanent home at the PFHOF as a part of the new Hall of Fame Village, a $500 million development of the PFHOF's campus.
The two organizations will also work together on joint programs and events including: hosting the annual BCFHOF induction ceremony at Hall of Fame Village; expanded educational programming and special events at the PFHOF during Black History Month; a travelling exhibition; and post-graduate internship opportunities for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The partnership also includes a future BCFHOF HBCU Classic to be held at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton and a major permanent exhibition inside the PFHOF.
"So many members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and countless numbers of their teammates had a road to greatness paved through Historically Black Colleges and Universities," Hall of Fame President David Baker shared. "Their journey is an important part of the history of the Game that must not be forgotten. This partnership with the Black College Football Hall of Fame will provide insight into what shaped the lives of so many Heroes of this Game and will serve as great inspiration to generations of fans."
Twenty-nine of the 303 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (nearly 10%) played at an HBCU. Three members of the PFHOF (Mel Blount, Willie Lanier and Art Shell) serve on the BCFHOF's Board of Trustees. Lanier is also a member of the PFHOF's Board of Trustees.
The BCFHOF was founded in 2009 by two legendary NFL quarterbacks and African-American pioneers James Harris and Doug Williams. Under their leadership, the BCFHOF has continued to grow, providing a meaningful platform to share the history and stories of the greatest HBCU football players, coaches, and contributors.
A star quarterback at Grambling State University, Harris was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eighth round of the 1969 combined AFL-NFL Draft. As a rookie he became the NFL's first African-American to start full-time at quarterback. Later, while with the Los Angeles Rams, he became the first African-American quarterback to be named to the Pro Bowl (1975) and to start and win a NFL playoff game. Harris played with the Bills (1969-1971), the Rams (1973-76) and the San Diego Chargers (1977-79).
"All of us associated with the Black College Football Hall of Fame look forward to working with the team at the Pro Football Hall of Fame to elevate the story of the greatest African-American players, coaches and contributors who persevered and overcame great obstacles to achieve their dreams," Harris stated.
Williams, who also excelled at Grambling, was taken in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a member of the Washington Redskins, he made history as the first African-American quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. His then-record 340 yards passing and 4 TDs in Super Bowl XXII earned him Most Valuable Player honors, also a first. Williams played with the Buccaneers (1978-1982) and the Redskins (1986-89) and two seasons with the USFL Oklahoma/Arizona Wranglers (1984-85).
"The Black College Football Hall of Fame is thrilled to have its permanent home in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Williams offered. "This special partnership will allow us to preserve black college football history for generations to come."
The BCFHOF Induction will be held in Canton in each year. The BCFHOF's annual Inductee Dinner and Golf Classic will continue in Atlanta where it has been held since its founding.
Revenue to support the initiatives will be raised primarily through donations, grants, fund raising events, and merchandise sales.