Fritz Pollard became the first black head coach in the NFL in 1921. He was also the first black person to play professional American football for a major team, the Akron Pros, in 1920. He coached and played the game at the same time. —Fritz Pollard was born in January 1894. He was a Black American football player and coach in the National Football League. Frederick Douglas "Fritz" Pollard grew up in Chicago. By the time he graduated from high school, he was a talented baseball player, running back and a three-time Cook County track champion. He briefly played football for Northwestern, Harvard and Dartmouth before receiving a scholarship from the Rockefeller family to attend Brown University in 1915. It was here where Pollard led their squad to a 1916 Rose Bowl game. He was the first African American to play in the Rose bowl, and the second to be named an All-American in college football.
After leaving Brown, Pollard briefly pursued a degree in dentistry, worked as director of an army YMCA, and coached football at Lincoln University. He signed to play for the Akron Pros in the American Professional Football League (APFA). Pollard lead Akron to a championship in 1920, was named head coach in 1921 and continued to play for the Pros as well. The APFA was renamed the NFL in 1922, making Pollard the first African American coach in NFL history. Pollard coached Akron until 1926, and went on to coach NFL teams in Indiana and Milwaukee. He retired from football in 1937 to pursue a career in business, remaining the only Black to have coached in the NFL until the 1990s. Fritz Pollard died on May 11, 1986 in Silver Springs, MD.