PHOTO: Clint Jones and Duffy Daugherty.
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By TOM SHANAHAN
CHAPEL HILL – Michigan State College Football Hall of Famer Clint Jones says he wants to live to be a healthy 100 years old. To that end, last week he visited the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes.
Jones, 78, was among former NFL players poked and prodded with testing and evaluations. The NFL Players Association sponsored their week through its funding arm, The Trust. The Center’s location in Chapel Hill also allowed for Jones, who lives in California, to relive history from 59 years ago.
He was the first African American to score a touchdown at North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium. He integrated the goal line, to paraphrase late Shirley Povich, a legendary Washington Post sportswriter. More on that later.
Tom Shanahan and Clint Jones in the Kenan Stadium West end zone, November 17, 2023. Note Jones is holding his College Football Hall of Fame ball from his 2015 induction.
On September 26, 1964, Michigan State was the first fully integrated football team to play in the segregated South in a game at North Carolina. Jones, making his varsity debut, broke off a 42-yard run to integrate Kenan Stadium’s end zone.
“It’s hard for me to put into words,” said Jones, reflecting as he stood in the West end zone. “At the time I was just trying to contribute to the team.”
If you’re surprised to learn this piece of lost history, you’re not alone. Jones was unaware until recent research unearthed a fact ignored and left to be buried.
The explanation is simple: The 1960s sports media avoided race for fear of alienating readers and advertisers. This was prior to the 1968 Olympic protests of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Thereafter, such storylines couldn’t be ignored. Chris Lamb, the chair of Journalism and Public Relations at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, wrote about the biased media attitudes in his book, “Blackout, The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training,” and in other works.
As a result, many Black athletic milestones were lost to history rather than celebrated as they ran parallel to the Civil Rights movement. Their omissions underscore the importance of critical race theory and Black historiography. The concepts have been politicized, but they simply mean how history was written.
Or more specifically in this case, how African American sports history wasn’t written.
Otherwise, we’re left to traditional American history books limiting Black athletic milestones to Jesse Owens at the 1936 Nazi Olympics in Berlin, Joe Louis defeating German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938 at Yankee Stadium and Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color line in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
There were many more Black athletes establishing landmarks, and they paid a price along the way.
For Jones, the 2023 trip to the Center was win-win. He appreciated the knowledge he gained from testing at the UNC Center, which has been working with the NFL Players Association since 2001.
“If I want to live to a 100 to enjoy watching my grandkids grow up, I want to learn more about my body,” said Jones, who played seven NFL seasons, six with the Minnesota Vikings as the No. 2 pick of the 1967 NFL draft. “I want to thank the Center and The Trust for the opportunity.”
The former athletes are tested for their cognitive, mental and physical functioning. The UNC Center was founded in 2001 by Kevin Guskiewicz, a neurosurgeon who was a UNC researcher in sports medicine. He has been UNC’s Chancellor since 2019. Recent news reports identified Guskiewicz as the lone finalist for the new president at Michigan State.
Jones’ background as a chiropractor after his NFL playing days provides him more knowledge of the human body than other retired players, but in addition, his interested was heightened by the deaths of Michigan State’s other two College Football Hall of Famers among the 1966 seniors, George Webster and Bubba Smith. Webster died in 2007 at age 61 and Smith in 2010 at 66.
Webster had been in ill health for several year, including suffering from diabetes. He had lost most of the use of his hand and leg and in 202 had his right leg amputated above the knee.
But the timing of Smith’s death also haunted Jones. Smith, who had rare size for his era as a 6-foot-8, 285-pounder, was battling a weight problem as he aged. Jones had convinced Smith to follow a weight program they were about to start. But Smith, unknown to others, was taking weight-loss drugs. He collapsed in the shower on in 2010. On August 10, 2010, he collapsed while taking a shower and was found dead. The autopsy revealed heart disease compounded by the weight loss drug.
In addition to UNC, other sites The Trust works with are the Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital and Tulane University School of Medicine.
Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty led college football with its first fully integrated teams. Clint Jones was one of four College Football Hall of Fame members in the 1966 senior class. Jones, George Webster, Bubba Smith and Gene Washington are the first four Black players from the same enshrined in the Hall. Daugherty’s leadership included ignoring unwritten quotas limiting Black athletes to a half-dozen or so. USC was among those schools despite myths surrounding the 1970 USC-Alabama game.
And the Kenan end zone was a special moment for Jones to reflect on his career and his alma mater’s ground-breaking football program. Entry was arranged through Kevin Donnalley, the Director of the UNC Game Plan for Success in the Tar Heels’ football office, and Candice Goerger, the Center’s Associate Director of Operations.
Throughout the 1960s, Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty led college football integration. His teams ignored the unwritten quotas other schools followed, including USC, that limited Black players on their roster to a half-dozen or so.
PHOTO: UNC football staff member Kevin Dunnalley with Tom Shanahan and Clint Jones in Kenan Stadium’s west end zone.
By the time Jones was a two-time All-American senior in 1966, Michigan State played Notre Dame in the Game of the Century on November 19 at Spartan Stadium. A record television audience of 33 million saw the contrast in rosters.
Michigan State was the future with 20 Black players, 11 Black starters, two Black team captains, Jones and fellow College Football Hall of Famer George Webster, and the South’s first Black quarterback to win a national title, Jimmy Raye of segregated Fayetteville, N.C.
Notre Dame was the past with only one Black player, Alan Page. USC’s 1962 and 1967 national title teams also represented the past. The Trojans’ 1962 roster numbered only five Black players and the 1967 team only seven despite a campus located in populous and diverse Los Angeles.
Raye’s place in history as Black quarterback wasn’t recognized until reported in my 2014 book, “Raye of Light, Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the Integration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans.” The National Football Foundation subsequently verified the report and published it in a newsletter.
Michigan State’s journey to Chapel Hill was six years before the 1970 USC-Alabama game, although revisionist history has successfully credited Alabama coach Bear Bryant and USC coach John McKay for manipulating southern bigots with a secret plan. The lack of reporting on Black milestones allowed for a void that has been filled by myths and fiction crafted 20 years after the 1970 game. Unsuspecting fans and media regurgitated the unvetted 1990s folklore.
PHOTO: The North Carolina Bell Tower, built in 1931, is visible in the background. UNC Center Associate Director of Operations Candice Goerger with Tom Shanahan and Clint Jones.
My new book, “The Right Thing To Do, The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s,” includes a chapter on the 1964 MSU-UNC game. In addition to Jones’ TD, Gene Washington, an African American from segregated Texas who rode Daugherty’s Underground Railroad, also scored a touchdown on an 11-yard reception. The Spartans had beaten North Carolina in 1962 (38-6) and 1963 (31-0) at Spartan Stadium, but the Tar Heels turned the tables in 1964 (21-15).
The book highlights a timeline of many overlooked Black milestones that rendered college football integration fait accompli by 1970.
For example, the 1970 Bryant myths ignored Alabama was the seventh of 10 schools in the Southeastern Conference to include a Black player. Bryant didn’t recruit Wilbur Jackson as his first Black player until 1970 – one year after in-state rival Auburn recruited James Owens as its first Black player. Bryant was a footdragger, not a crusader the myths have portrayed him with a whitewash. By 1970, 33 of 37 major southern programs included a Black player.
Meanwhile, in the 1970 Alabama game, USC started only four Black players. The Trojans were not a model program of integration whitewash the myth paints. JUSC was still shedding its quota limitation years and didn’t have a fully integrated roster until adding 13 transfers combined in the 1969 and 1970 classes – 12 from the junior college ranks. Those two classes bumped the 1970 total to 18.
If the sports media had lived up to its tenets in the 1960s, Jones’ milestone and other landmarks would have been highlighted. But in 1964, newspapers in Michigan and North Carolina simply referred to the game as the first time a Big Ten school played in Chapel Hill.
The media needed a Shirley Povich at Kenan to properly report on the MSU-UNC game’s significance. Povich, the Washington Post’s legendary sportswriter, was openly critical of Washington NFL owner George Preston Marshall, an avowed racist, for maintaining the NFL’s last all-white team.
In 1961, Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns scored at Washington. Povich wrote about Marshall ignoring Supreme Court rulings on equality.
“… (Brown) integrated the Redskins’ goal line with more than deliberate speed, perhaps exceeding the Supreme Court decree. Brown fled the 25 yards like a man in an uncommon hurry and the Redskins’ goal line, at least, became interracial.”
Tom Shanahan is an award-winning writer and author focused on college football integration and Michigan State’s leading role. His 2022 story on the 1962 Rose Bowl, Alabama and segregation won first place from Football Writers Association of America.
THE RIGHT THING TO DO
The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s
I recount many ignored milestones from the true pioneers of college football integration — all of them establishing history before the 1970 USC-Alabama game that has benefitted from revisionist history — in my book that is now available for pre-order. Click here or see below:
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055
Below are links click on to purchase my books focused.
My books tell the true story of college football integration in the 1960s and address the myths and fiction that allowed a false narrative surrounding the 1970 USC-Alabama game to usurp the credit from the true pioneers. As I said when I spoke at the National Sports Media Association book festival, no two books provide an accurate portrayal more than RAYE OF LIGHT and THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
I’ll put my facts up against anybody, anytime, anywhere.
Click here for my story on the 1962 Rose Bowl and Segregation awarded first place by the Football Writers Association of America. I tell untold stories on Michigan State’s leading role and the true pioneers of college football integration. Click here to read the summary as a first-place story.
Click here to purchase The Right Thing To Do
THE RIGHT THING TO DO
The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s
Foreword by Ruffin McNeill
Click here to purchase Raye of Light.
RAYE OF LIGHT
Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans
Foreword by Tony Dungy
Click here to purchase my children’s book, Bubba’s Dad, Duffy and College Football’s Underground Railroad
The book for now is only a Kindle version on Amazon. Print and audio platforms available soon.
Coming soon for Christmas, my next children’s book: How Duffy Put Hawaii on the Football Map