Watch the story of the '51 Dons football team's stance against racism on ESPN Feb. 9.
This Sunday, ESPN will air the incredible true story of the USF football
team’s stand against injustice and racism in 1951. When the players were asked
to leave the team’s two African American players behind in exchange for a berth in the
Orange Bowl, they refused.
It was a fateful decision. With a roster that included nine future NFL
draftees and Pro Football Hall of Famers Gino Marchetti, Bob St. Clair, and
Ollie Matson, the 9-0 Dons were well positioned to make a run at the national
championship. The payday for a national bowl appearance could have saved the
cash-strapped program. Instead, the team’s decision ended their season and
USF’s football program folded at the end of the 1951 season due to a lack of
'Right thing to do'
“We pulled out of the bowl bid because
it was the right thing to do, and the only thing to do—we were a family,” said St.
the team’s principled stance against Orange Bowl executives who told the Dons they
had to leave African American teammates Matson and Burl Toler off the roster.
The documentary premiers at 4 p.m. Feb.
9 and is rebroadcast throughout the
month as part of ESPN’s African American history programming.
by Ed Carpenter | Office of Communications and Marketing »email firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @usfcanews