Second Black College Football Hall of Fame class begins taking shape

The Black College Hall of Fame’s initial group of 35 finalists for its second-ever class is being reduced this month to a list of 11 honorees.

Ernie Accorsi and Gil Brandt, former general managers with the NFL’s Giants and Cowboys, head the committee charged with making the final decisions.

They’re discussing 2011 player finalists including: Lem Barney, Jackson State; Elvin Bethea, North Carolina A&T; Emerson Boozer, Maryland Eastern Shore; Mel Blount, Southern; Robert Brazile, Jackson State;
Roosevelt Brown, Morgan State; Willie Brown, Grambling; Harry Carson, South Carolina State; Willie Davis, Grambling; Eldridge Dickey, Tennessee State; Bob Hayes, Florida A&M; Kenny Houston, Prairie View A&M;
Charles Humphrey, Tennessee State; Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Tennessee State; Leroy Kelly, Morgan State; Joe Kendall, Kentucky State; Larry Little, Kentucky State; Steve McNair, Alcorn State; Marion Motley, South Carolina State; Willie Richardson, Jackson State;
Art Shell, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore; Donnie Shell, South Carolina State; John Stallworth, Alabama A&M; Willie Totten, Mississippi Valley State; and Doug Williams, Grambling.

Coach finalists are Cleve Abbot, Tuskegee; Earl Banks, Morgan State; Marino Casem, Alcorn State;
W.C. Gorden, Jackson State; Willie Jeffries, South Carolina State; John Merritt, Tennessee State; and Ace Mumford, Southern.

Contributor finalists are Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, president of Grambling; Howell Hornsby, football operations at North Carolina A&T; and Collie J. Nicholson, sports information director of Grambling.

Davis was a stalwart in Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers dynasty in the 1960s. Blunt and Stallworth were members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ legendary 1970s championship squads that followed.

Willie Brown and Shell both went on to Pro Football Hall of Fame careers with the Oakland Raiders. Motley and Kelly, later standouts with the Cleveland Browns, are already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well. Boozer started for the 1968 New York Jets team that beat the Colts in Super Bowl III. Roosevelt Brown was a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Jones, as Grambling’s second school president, hired the sport’s winningest coach ever, Eddie G. Robinson, even while crafting his own hall of fame-worthy career as skipper for the baseball team; Banks spent 14 years as Morgan’s coach, winning .839 of his games; Nicholson was considered the dean of black college football SIDs; Jeffries was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.

The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October 2009 to honor the greatest football players and coaches from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It’s sponsored by the Shack Harris and Doug Williams Foundation.

The initial hall of fame class, honored earlier this year, included Junious “Buck” Buchanan of Grambling, who starred for the Kansas City Chiefs; Willie Galimore, Florida A&M; David “Deacon” Jones, South Carolina State and Mississippi Valley State, Los Angeles Rams; Willie Lanier, Morgan State, Kansas City Chiefs; Walter Payton, Jackson State, Chicago Bears; Jerry Rice, Mississippi Valley State, San Francisco 49ers; Ben Stevenson, Tuskegee; Paul “Tank” Younger, Grambling, Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers; Eddie G. Robinson, Grambling coach; Jake Gaither, Florida A&M coach; and Bill Nunn, Pittsburgh Courier and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jon Gruden, “Monday Night Football” analyst and former Super Bowl winning coach with Tampa Bay, will emcee this year’s enshrinement ceremonies, set for on Feb. 19, 2011, in Atlanta, Ga.

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