Tunnell, Emlen Lewis Emlen Lewis Tunnell (March 29, 1924–July 23, 1975) was an American professional football player and coach who went by the moniker "The Gremlin." He was the first African-American to play for the New York Giants and the first African-American to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As a player, he spent one season with the Giants, appearing in eight games before being injured. He returned to lead the Giants to their first NFL championship over the Baltimore Colts.
After his playing career ended, Tunnell became the first African-American coach in the National Football League when he was hired by the San Francisco 49ers in 1969. He stayed with the team for three seasons and compiled a record of 10-13-1. In 1972, he was named the 49ers' head coach but was fired after one season. He later worked as a scout for the Giants and Detroit Lions.
Tunnell died at the age of 48 in July 1975, two years after ending his playing career. He had been suffering from cancer for several months prior to his death.
There are now four African-Americans in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: tunnell, Ernie Davis, Dexter Manley, and Deion Sanders. Two more players will be enshrined in 2020: Michael Bennett and Jordan Howard.
Another early NFL standout, Motley, who was one of the first African Americans to play the game, developed a distinct flair on the field. The late NFL running back was known for his wide use of methods, which resulted in substantial passing outcomes as well as good blocking. His career began in 1960 with the New York Giants, and he ended up playing seven seasons total. He had three separate stints with the Chicago Bears, including one season where he led the league in rushing.
Motley's top season came in 1964 when he rushed for 1,339 yards - second only to Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns. That year, he also scored 13 touchdowns, a record that still stands today. At the time of his death in 2015, he was the only player in NFL history to have over 1,000 yards rushing in a season.
Besides being a great runner, Motley was also a dangerous receiver out of the backfield, averaging nearly 50 yards per game during his career. He is also remembered for a hard hit he laid on Minnesota Viking Fred Biletnikoff in 1961 that helped bring about a penalty that enabled him to score a touchdown. After leaving the Giants, he went on to have successful seasons with the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins before retiring in 1970 at the age of 30.
The first professional football player was William (Pudge) Heffelfinger. He was a center fielder who played in the American Association with the Indianapolis Blues from 1884 to 1889. He filed a lawsuit against the Blues organization for unpaid wages, and in doing so became the first player to be awarded the league's top honor, the "Golden Fleece."
His achievements were not recognized at the time because the sport was not considered important enough to be listed in baseball's official statistics book. However, he is now regarded as the first true football player by many historians.
Another early footballer was Charles A. Stellwagen from New York City. In 1892, he left his job as a clerk to play semi-professional football while attending Columbia University. He was paid $500 for playing eight games during the season. His team won all eight matches they played.
The first known college football game was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. The game was played at College Field in New Brunswick, New Jersey and was not recorded by either school at the time. It is only through photographs and newspaper articles that we know what must have happened during this game.
William Walter Heffelfinger (December 20, 1867–April 2, 1954) was a football player and coach in the United States. He is regarded as the first athlete to be paid to play American football professionally, having done so in 1892. Heffelfinger received $10 for each game he played in with either the Allegheny Athletic Club or the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Heffelfinger was born in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. His family moved to Ohio when he was a child where he attended school in Painesville. It was there that he began playing American football. He initially tried out with the local team but was soon offered a contract by the Allegheny Athletic Association, which at that time was considered one of the best football teams in the country. He accepted the offer and became the first football player to be paid. >
His career lasted only one season but nevertheless had an impact on the development of the sport. Before Heffelfinger, players in the NFL were not paid; they competed against each other to see who would get the most attractive job within the league. The fact that Heffelfinger was paid to play made him popular among other athletes who wanted to continue their careers after one year. From then on, professional football players started getting paid too.
Heffelfinger also influenced the evolution of sports journalism when he wrote his autobiography in 1893.