The NFL actually integrated a year before baseball did – in 1946, while Jackie Robinson was still on the Brooklyn Dodgers’ minor-league team in Montreal. If most of America didn’t give the NFL’s integration the same attention that Robinson’s debut got a year later, it’s understandable: baseball was king back then, while pro football wasn’t even as popular as college football.
In 2014, though, there’s no more excuse not to know how African Americans entered pro football. Or, to be exact, re-entered, after the NFL banned black players in 1933. A new documentary, “Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football,” premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on the premium cable channel Epix.
The executive producers are Ross Greenburg, the former head of HBO Sports, and Wes Smith, a first-time filmmaker (and former star high-school quarterback) who came up with the idea in 2006 when he met one of the four pioneers, Hall of Fame Cleveland Browns guard Bill Willis.
Here’s the official trailer:
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