Douglas "Fritz" Pollard was born on January 27, 1894. He was the first
African-American coach in the National Football League.
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.
In 1916, Pollard led the Brown football team to play in the Rose Bowl. He was the first
African-American to play there and the second to be named an All-American in college
Pollard later pursued a degree in dentistry, worked as director of an army YMCA, and
coached football at Lincoln University. In 1919, he signed his first professional football
contract to play for the Akron Pros in the American Professional Football League (APFA).
Fritz 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.
Frederick Douglas "Fritz" Pollard died May 9, 1986.