One of my guilty pleasures is watching the TV One documentary cable collection Unsung and Unsung Hollywood. If in case you have by no means watched both collection, they tell the tales of African-American singers and actors who experienced substantial success for a brief period of time earlier than their shining star abruptly pale away. If I might create a new collection referred to as Unsung Sports my pilot episode would give attention to the Maryland State School football program, arguably the most effective sports activities program in American history. Don’t consider me, examine the stats! The program saw 142 wins and just 38 losses between 1946 and 1970, seven undefeated seasons, multiple conference championships, 4 legendary coaches, 30 eventual professional gamers, five Tremendous Bowl members, collegiate and professional Hall of Famers, a rock star, a civil rights activist, and an aide to Bobby Kennedy. Maryland State School, now referred to as The College of Maryland Japanese Shore, has one of the best football packages most people have by no means heard of. The story of this tiny HBCU (traditionally black school and college) is an interesting story of race and collegiate sports activities.
Football and Race on Maryland’s Japanese Shore
Two hours from the nation’s capital sits Princess Anne, a tiny rural city on Maryland’s Japanese Shore. On September 13, 1886, the Delaware Convention Academy was opened. Inside a yr the scholar scholar inhabitants rose from nine to 37 college students. The faculty modified its identify to The Industrial Branch of Morgan State School after which to Princess Anne Academy. In accordance with the Second Morrill Act, the state was required to open a Land-Grant school to accommodate the black college students who have been prohibited from attending the Maryland Agricultural School (which we all know as we speak because the University of Maryland, School Park). The faculty was renamed the Japanese Shore Department of the Maryland Agricultural School; nevertheless, it was generally known as Princess Anne School.
Football was introduced to Princess Anne School by the varsity’s new principal, Thomas H. Kiah. In 1922 Kiah employed World Struggle I veteran Gideon Edward Smith to serve as the varsity’s first athletic coach. The Princess Anne Academy Trojans played their inaugural recreation a yr later towards Cambridge High Faculty. Early games performed between 1925 and 1930 pitted the Trojans towards nearby black faculties like Bowie Regular Faculty (Bowie State University) and State School for Coloured Students (Delaware State College). In 1931 the Trojans turned founding members of the brand new Mid-Atlantic Athletic Association (M3A) and employed head coach Frank A. Arnold. Coach Arnold, nevertheless, lacked the profitable prowess of his successors. Princess Anne School cancelled soccer for the first time during World Struggle II to allow college students to serve within the armed forces. In 1947 the varsity hired John T. Williams to function its new president. Williams, a 6’four” former All-American football player at Kentucky State University, oversaw the varsity’s progress academically and athletically for the subsequent 20 years. In 1948 the varsity was renamed Maryland State School. That same yr Vernon “Skip” McCain was employed to teach the newly named football staff: the Hawks.
Hawk Delight – Catch It!
Jim Crow was just as chargeable for the rise of dominant black school soccer packages as integration was for his or her demise. Charles Martin’s 2010 ebook Benching Jim Crow documents the history of southern school soccer and basketball. Martin says “Football came to inspire such fanatical passion across Dixie that it constituted what Andrei S. Markovits termed a ‘hegemonic team sport,’ one that unites masses of citizens from a region or nation in a collective emotional embrace of triumph or defeat.” In the identical decade of the Plessy determination northern and southern schools and universities started competing in intersectional video games. Southern faculties seen these video games as a chance to avenge Dixie’s loss in the Civil Struggle. These video games have been the first occasions the Confederate Flag was flown proudly in public since Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. By the 1920s most faculties accepted a “gentleman’s agreement”, which was the understanding that built-in northern groups would go away their black gamers at residence every time they performed segregated faculties within the South.
Since blacks have been prohibited from attending or enjoying for white faculties, the most effective talent went to colleges like Maryland State. Many of the Hawks’ players hailed from Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Indiana. Maryland State School joined the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) in 1954. The following yr McCain led the Hawks to an undefeated season and its first CIAA championship. Throughout that magical season the Hawks outscored the competitors by a total of 198-19 led by Coach Skip McCain. Standing just 5’5”, McCain was a religious Christian who kept away from using profanity on and off the sector. He might sound like a light mannered man, however he was arguably the most effective school football coach in state history. McCain’s inning proportion of 82.9% over a 17-year period was better than several notable contemporaries. He retired in 1962 with 103 wins, 16 losses and 4 ties. He was inducted into the School Football Corridor of Fame in 2006, which is a significantly long time since inductees must only have ten years of head teaching experience, coached 100 games, and a minimum of a .600 profitable proportion.
McCain sent a number of players to the National Football League (NFL) and nurtured several gamers that went on to the professionals. His most well-known participant was operating back Emerson “Booz” Boozer (1962-1966), who I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Boozer for this article. Coach McCain started recruiting the Georgia native during his senior yr of highschool. “Pack an overnight bag and send him to me,” McCain advised his mother and father. Of all of his experiences at Maryland State School what stands out probably the most to the 73-year-old Boozer was being tutored by President John T. Williams and the English Department Chair – three days every week – in two hour periods. Each administrators took a “hands-on” strategy in making sure he was profitable off the sector. Boozer graduated and was drafted by the New York Jets in 1966. He went on to win All-Pro honors, an American Football League (AFL) championship, and a Super Bowl. After a devastating knee damage pressured him to modify positions from operating back to blocker, Boozer was Joe Namath’s main blocker in Super Bowl III, probably the most vital professional football recreation ever performed. The New York Jets (champions of the AFL) defeated the Baltimore Colts (champions of the Nationwide Football League) 16-7 on January 12, 1969. The Jets’ victory was answerable for the merger of the 2 leagues into what we all know as we speak because the NFL. Boozer was one of five Maryland State alumni to play in that recreation, which nonetheless stands as an excellent bowl document. The other former Hawks included Johnny Sample (Jets), Earl Christy (Jets), Charlie Stukes (Colts), and James Duncan (Colts).
Coach Skip McCain’s success was aided by a tremendous employees which included assistant coaches Earl C. Banks and Roosevelt “Sandy” Gilliam. Coach Banks worked at Maryland State School from 1950 till 1960. After spending ten years with the Hawks Earl Banks led Morgan State University in Baltimore to four straight CIAA championships, three undefeated seasons, and a 31-game profitable streak as the top coach. Coach Gilliam succeeded Skip McCain as the top coach and athletic director in 1962. He led the Hawks to 24 wins, 11 losses, and a couple of ties. His tenure at Maryland State, ending in 1968, was followed by a stint on the coaching employees of the Denver Broncos. Gilliam’s largest contribution to the soccer program was recruiting future NFL stars like William “Billy” Thompson, Arthur Lee “Art” Shell, and Gerald Irons. Each Thompson and Shell hailed from Gilliam’s residence state of South Carolina. Thompson got here to Maryland State from Sterling High Faculty in Greenville, SC in 1965. The Hawks have been 20-9 with Thompson enjoying defensive back. He graduated in 1968 and was selected by the Denver Broncos within the third spherical of the 1969 draft. Thompson had perpetual success as a 13-year security for the Broncos. He was chosen to play in the prestigious Professional Bowl in 1977, 1978, and 1981. The Broncos inducted Thompson into their Ring of Honor in 1987.
After a standout efficiency at the collegiate degree (1964-1968) Art Shell played offensive deal with for the Oakland Raiders from 1968-1982. The eight time Pro-Bowler helped the Raiders win Super Bowls XI and XV. Al Davis, the controversial proprietor of the Raiders, ultimately moved the group to Los Angeles and hired Shell as his coach in 1989, making him the second black head coach within the history of skilled soccer and the first employed because the NFL integrated in 1946. Shell coached the Raiders until 1994. During his tenure he was named the American Football Convention (AFC) Coach of the Yr and led the Raiders to the AFC championship recreation. Shell was inducted into the Pro Football Corridor of Fame in 1989 for his enjoying career.
Along with Emerson Boozer and Billy Thompson, Art Shell’s years at Maryland State School overlapped with Clarence Clemons, Gerald Irons, and Curtis “Curt” Gentry. Clemons (1961-64) was a gifted lineman who earned tryouts with the Dallas Cowboys and Cleveland Browns, but by no means performed within the NFL on account of a horrific automotive accident. UMES Golf head coach Marshall Cropper, a Hawk football alum who played vast receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins, remembers Clemons as an impressive ball participant who all the time had a love for music. “He was good enough to play pro ball, I know that. I think we all got pleasure out of seeing him be successful.” Clemons would go on to function the saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Road Band from 1972 until his demise in 2011. He recorded music with a number of stars together with Aretha Franklin, Woman Gaga, and Ringo Starr. In 2014 he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame. Clemons also had a minor appearing career consisting of cameos on in style television exhibits Totally different Strokes, The Simpsons, and The Wire.
Gerald Irons graduated from Maryland State in 1970 with a level in enterprise administration. The 6’2” 225 pound Irons was a beginning linebacker for the Oakland Raiders from 1970 till 1976. He played the subsequent 4 years with the Cleveland Browns. Irons was named as an “Oakland Raiders Legend” and ranked among the many 100 biggest gamers within the history of the Cleveland Browns. But his athletic accomplishments pale compared to what he did off the sector. During his off seasons in Oakland he took courses on the University of Chicago Graduate Faculty of Business to earn a grasp of business administration diploma and discovered Japanese. Throughout his time in Cleveland he attended the John Marshall Regulation Faculty at night time. President Jimmy Carter invited him to the White House to debate concepts for job training and improvement for youth. Irons served as a liaison for United States senator John Glenn. Sure, the same astronaut, John Glenn, who orbited the Earth in 1962 and is featured prominently in the Oscar nominated film Hidden Figures (2016). Irons has served because the vice chairman of business improvement for 32 years with The Woodlands Improvement Company in Texas. In that position he has brought lots of of business business, medical corporations, and physicians to the Woodlands area. Irons can also be a motivational speaker, a board member for the Texas Youngsters’s Hospital, and the writer of the 2014 ebook When Preparation Meets Opportunity.
One of probably the most fascinating former Hawks is Curt Gentry. I name him the Forrest Gump of Maryland State School history because his life story must be a movie. An all-state athlete in football, basketball, and baseball in Ohio, Gentry acquired a scholarship to play for the University of Miami in Ohio. However he dropped out of faculty in 1958 (after almost three years) to run the streets back residence. His enjoyable on the street corners didn’t final long. In 1959 he signed knowledgeable baseball contract with the Cincinnati Reds. Gentry attended the Reds’ coaching camp in Florida, but was minimize from the roster. Subsequent he signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers, incomes a spot on their minor league staff, the Decatur, Illinois Commodores. His baseball career overlapped with a two-week stint on the Harlem Globe Satellites semi-pro basketball workforce. This minor league basketball staff was an affiliate of the famed Harlem Globetrotters. Gentry’s baseball and basketball profession led to 1960 after he was drafted into the army.
Now right here is the place Gentry’s story will get fascinating. After serving 22 months within the army Gentry, now stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, began writing to HBCUs (North Carolina AT&T, North Carolina Central College, Tuskegee Institute, and Maryland State School) to inquire about receiving an athletic scholarship. Coach Skip McCain was the only coach to answer to his request. Quickly McCain was on his solution to enrolling as a 24-year-old freshman at Maryland State. Right now you may be asking how this might occur provided that he had already gone to school, served in the military, and played professional ball. Properly, Gentry admits to concealing all data of his skilled contracts from the varsity. It is unclear to me how he was allowed to enroll as a freshman. Gentry says he needed a clean slate and chose not to switch any of his previous school credit. Gentry made probably the most of his second probability at a university schooling. “At Miami of Ohio segregation was supposed to be over, but I could not join any white fraternities. Black athletes did not date white girls. I knew that at Maryland State I could spend time with people who looked like me and have role models who looked like me.” Other noticeable differences between Miami of Ohio and Maryland State was the shortage of primary amenities corresponding to a locker room, groups showers, a weight room, clear laundry on a weekly foundation, and a nice enjoying area. Gentry says the shortage of these facilities did not have any impression on the group’s recreation time performances.
Along with excelling on the football subject Gentry was an lively participant within the Scholar Government Affiliation (SGA) and the Civil Rights Motion. John A. Wilson, an lively member in the Scholar Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), served in the SGA with Gentry. Wilson inspired Gentry to become involved with the protests to battle local Jim Crow laws. In spite of the football workforce’s success segregation reigned. Whites did not attend their video games nor dare step foot on campus. The Hawks needed to journey to play white faculties. Segregation stored most blacks in Princess Anne from earning little more than a highschool diploma. Gentry and Wilson led fellow college students in native marches. They stood as much as police canine and firehoses identical to the school students additional South. “I believed in the cause so much that I stationed my body under the wheels of a Greyhound bus. Believe it or not, the state patrolman told the bus driver to run over me,” says Gentry. In 1964 Gentry, together with John Wilson and one other scholar named Warren Morgan, traveled to the state capital constructing in Annapolis to satisfy with Governor John Millard Tawes. Gentry believes that this assembly led to the governor’s efforts to make the state legislature implement the accommodation laws that allowed blacks to eat, sleep, and work anyplace without dealing with discrimination.
Gentry was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1969 to play defensive finish. He advised the Bears he was solely 24-years-old because he feared that the group would not take an opportunity on a 28-year-old black player. During his stint in Chicago Gentry performed for Hall of Fame coach George “Papa Bear” Halas, Sr., and alongside legendary operating back Gayle Sayers. Sadly, his professional profession was lower than stellar. After what Gentry believes was a racially motivated argument with a defensive coach throughout his third yr with the Bears he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Gentry snapped a hamstring and was despatched packing to the Philadelphia Eagles and then later to the Minnesota Vikings. Injuries reduce his time in the NFL brief, however he discovered success teaching at The School of Holy Cross, North Carolina A&T State University, Johnson C. Smith College, Lincoln College, and Northwestern University.
Maryland State School gained video games because of both celebrity gamers and supporting position players like Addison Wallace and Howard Brown. Addison Wallace, the younger brother of former Hampton, Virginia, Mayor George Wallace, was the Hawks starting quarterback in the 1963-64 season. Wallace was also concerned in scholar government and civil rights demonstrations. Sadly, he needed to give up the staff after contracting cancer. He took time without work from faculty, but returned to complete his diploma. From there he attended Howard College Regulation Faculty. After regulation faculty he worked briefly for Lawyer Common Robert F. Kennedy, before succumbing to most cancers.
Howard Brown performed with Wallace at Maryland State in 1963-64. Howard attended faculty from 1963-67; nevertheless, he dropped out his senior yr to marry his pregnant girlfriend. He drove for Greyhound for a quantity of years and ultimately drove the bus for Oakland Raiders head coach John Madden.
The Hawks’ largest rival was the Morgan State School Bears. “You couldn’t find a student on Morgan’s campus when we came to town because they were at the stadium,” says Gentry. Maryland State had aggressive games with HBCUs North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State College and North Carolina Central University, however those video games paled compared to their matchups with Morgan. Gentry says outstanding HBCUs Howard University and Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) never scheduled video games with the Hawks out of worry of being embarrassed. Local predominantly white institutions (PWIs) Salisbury State School (now Salisbury College) and the University of Maryland, School Park additionally prevented enjoying the Hawks.
Legacy, Legacy, Legacy, Black Excellence
On January eight, 1980, the University of Maryland Japanese Shore (formerly Maryland State School) permanently suspended its varsity football program. Why did UMES cancel football? The dominant concept is that the university cancelled this system to chop rising prices resulting from inflation and in an effort to meet the necessities of Title IX, , a portion of the 1972 Schooling Amendments calling for equality in ladies’s scholastic sports. Others point to the loss of coaches McCain, Banks, and Gillian and the passing of President Williams. Dr. David Alston, an Associate Professor of Sociology at UMES and former football player at Livingstone School (NC), says the varsity misplaced football as a result of it was unable to afford the price of leaving the CIAA to hitch the newly shaped Mid-Japanese Athletic Convention (MEAC). In contrast to up to now when the varsity’s video games have been towards opponents no further away than South Carolina, the MEAC had faculties as far as Florida. The value for travel and lodge lodging turned too much of a burden for the tiny university. Dr. Bryant Mitchell, an Affiliate Professor of Administration at UMES and proud former football player (1975-1977), believes that a conspiracy was at play. He believes that Maryland State football needed to die to ensure that the newly integrated College of Maryland, School Park (UMD), two hours away, to turn into the state’s most engaging vacation spot for the top soccer expertise. Mitchell’s conspiracy concept lies within the 1979 hiring of Jim Kehoe as the new UMES athletic director (Mitchell, 2017). At the time Kehoe, a 61-year-old white man, was leaving a excessive profiled job at UMD the place he had served as the athletic director of UMD for nine years. A yr later soccer was permanently dismantled.
Dr. Mitchell has been at the forefront of an alumni pushed motion to convey again varsity football. He has led fundraising drives, produced a documentary, and raised $40,000 with soccer alumni help to start out a club football group. Mitchell used his personal cash to pay for the club’s uniforms and meals. Archie Manning, father of Tremendous Bowl profitable quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, wrote a letter on behalf of the Nationwide Football Foundation & School Corridor of Fame (NFF) in help of Mitchell’s efforts to convey back varsity soccer. Sadly, in 2013 a university activity drive concluded that the fee of having varsity soccer on campus was too excessive. “We are not in the business of raising money for football right now,” stated Invoice Robinson, UMES director of public relations, throughout a 2013 interview with Denise Sawyer for WBOC 16 News. In speaking with UMES school and students there seems to be a scarcity of widespread help for the endeavor. In 2016 the premiere sports activities program at the College of Maryland Japanese Shore was ladies’s bowling. The bowlers gained NCAA national titles in 2008, 2011, and 2012. The majority of these student-athletes have been white. UMES groups not compete in the CIAA; they belong in the MEAC. While soccer may be a factor of the previous for present UMES college students, it should by no means be forgotten. Maryland State School despatched 27 gamers to the NFL, two to the Canadian Football League (CFL), and one to america Football League (USFL). It had three legendary coaches. The football program’s rise and fall is a obtrusive example of the influence of Jim Crow on school athletics in the 20th century. “Hawks football offered so many young black student-athletes the opportunity to continue their higher education and play the game they so loved,” says Emerson Boozer. “People were really afraid of us”, says Howard Brown. “They couldn’t believe that such a tiny college could have as much success as we did. We definitely should be ranked among the top programs in history.”