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ESPN's new documentary '51 Dons is showing on multiple channels through Wed. 2/19. full schedule »

ESPN Tells the Story of the '51 Dons

Ollie Matson runningThe inspiring story of how the University of San Francisco’s 1951 football team took a dramatic stand against racism will be told nationwide. ’51 Dons, an hour-long documentary, will air Sunday, February 9 on ESPN at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time.

This is the story of a team whose supreme triumph came in refusing to play. They chose honor over glory, and friendship over victory. Sixty-three years later, their courageous decision receives nationally televised attention.

The 1951 Dons football team was arguably the best in college football history. With a perfect 9-0 record, it was the first college team to produce three NFL Hall of Famers from the same team.

The team’s unwavering support of its African American teammates came at a high price: no post-season play, no championship, and no glory. The team’s Orange Bowl invitation had one condition: only the white players could participate. The team unanimously rejected the offer to play.

“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,” says team member and NFL Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair.


 


51 Dons Playing Cards Ollie Matson
51 Dons Playing Cards Ollie Matson
51 Dons Playing Cards Pete Rozelle
51 Dons Playing Cards Pete Rozelle

 

51 Dons Playing Cards Bob StClair
51 Dons Playing Cards Bob StClair
51 Dons Playing Cards Gino Marchetti
51 Dons Playing Cards Gino Marchetti

 

51 Dons Playing Cards Burl Toler
51 Dons Playing Cards Burl Toler
51 Dons Playing Cards Joe Kuharich
51 Dons Playing Cards Joe Kuharich