BOSTON (CBS) — Many fans watching on TV on Sunday likely noticed that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was sporting a custom lid. On his visor, right next to the Patriots logo, was a patch with the name Fritz Pollard printed on it.
Pollard was the first Black head coach in NFL history and one of the first Black players in NFL history. After playing at Brown University, Pollard went on to play for a number of pro teams, including the Providence Steam Rollers. In 1921, he became the NFL’s first Black coach when he became a player-coach of the Akron Pros.
After the 21-11 win, Belichick explained why he wore the patch.
“I’ll start with just how honored I am to have worn the patch today for Fritz Pollard,” Belichick said. “The criteria that they talked about was somebody who had overcome discrimination and racism and certainly Fritz Pollard fits into that category. So what he did, the courage that he showed as a player in the NFL and then later as a player-coach, and then later as – when he left the NFL and then after the NFL banned all Black players in I think it was 1934, he continued to work with professional football teams, all-Black teams and have them compete and they did very well. They just weren’t in the National Football League.
“So, really honored to have worn this today,”Belichick continued. “And I appreciate the opportunity to recognize Fritz Pollard for all he’s done and what now continues as an award that’s given out and recognition that’s given out for people that have done things along the lines of what he represented and what he worked so hard for.”