The Black College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced its Class of 2013. The newest members were selected from a list of 35 finalists who had been determined earlier this year by the Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee comprised of journalists and former football executives from around the country. Former inductees also submitted their votes in an effort to determine who will join this elite group of pioneers who have significantly impacted college football.
The inductees will be honored February 16, 2013 at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia at the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s Fourth Annual Enshrinement Ceremony presented by the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL Network’s Steve Wyche will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Enshrinement Ceremony. For more information please visit www.blackcollegefootballhof.org.
Black College Football Hall of Fame – Class of 2013
»Elvin Bethea (OLB, NC A&T, 1964-1967)
»Charles Brackins (QB, Prairie View A&M, 1951-1954)
»Joe Gilliam, Jr. (QB, Tennessee State University, 1968-1971)
»Ken Houston (DB, Prairie View A&M, 1964-1967)
»Charlie Joiner (WR, Grambling State University, 1965-1968)
»Ed “Too Tall” Jones (DL, Tennessee State University, 1970-1973)
»Larry Little (OL, Bethune-Cookman University, 1963-1966)
»Shannon Sharpe (TE, Savannah State University, 1986-1989)
»Jackie Slater (OL, Jackson State University, 1973-1976)
»John “Big John” Merritt (Head Coach, Tennessee State, 1953-1983)
»Charlie Neal (Long time commentator for Black College Football
About the Player Inductees:
LB; North Carolina A&T University; 1964-1967
»Elvin Bethea was a Pittsburgh Courier All-American three consecutive years at North Carolina A&T.
»Played offensive guard and tackle as well as defensive end and linebacker.
»Despite being selected as an offensive lineman in the third round of the 1968 AFL/NFL Draft, Bethea played his entire career with the Houston Oilers.
»In 210 games, including a stretch of 135 consecutive games, Bethea didn’t miss a game until breaking his arm in 1977.
»Bethea was selected to eight Pro Bowls and in 2003 became the first player from North Carolina A&T University to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Charles “Choo Choo” Brackins
QB; Prairie View A&M; 1951-1954
»Charles Brackins led Prairie View to 33 victories in 37 games (.892 winning percentage) as quarterback for the Panthers at Prairie View A&M University.
»Brackins was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 16th round of the 1955 NFL Draft, making him the first Black College football alumnus to play quarterback in the NFL.
Joe “Jefferson Street” Gilliam, Jr.
QB; Tennessee State University; 1968-1971
»Joe Gilliam grew up on the campus of Tennessee State University where he shattered every major passing record at the school and countless other black college records.
»Gilliam was one of the most popular players in TSU football history and gained his cool nickname when long-time football observers noted that his name was called all along historic Jefferson Street, which runs near the TSU campus in Nashville, Tennessee.
»Gilliam was an All-American in 1970 and 1971 at TSU and was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 11th round of the 1972 NFL Draft.
»He became the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 1974, and is known as the catalyst of the 1975 Super Bowl team although he did not finish the year as the starter.
»Gilliam earned two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers (IX, X).
DB; Prairie View A&M; 1964-1967
»Ken Houston was a center and starting linebacker who earned All-American honors for the Panthers during his collegiate career.
»Houston was drafted in the ninth round of the 1967 AFL-NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. In 1971, he set an NFL record with five touchdown returns (four interceptions and one fumble).
»During his professional career, Houston intercepted 49 passes, recovered 21 fumbles, and scored 12 touchdowns.
»In stints with the Oilers and Redskins, Houston appeared in 10 Pro Bowls and was ranked No. 61 on the Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999.
»Houston was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
WR; Grambling State University; 1965-1968
»During his time at GSU, the Tigers earned the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship multiple times. Joiner’s record at Grambling was 31-9-1, including a 9-1 campaign in 1967 that led to a Black College National Championship.
»Joiner led all GSU receivers from 1966-68, gaining 2,066 yards. Joiner was named first-team All-SWAC three times.
»Joiner was drafted in the fourth round by the AFL’s Houston Oilers and started his career as a defensive back, but he made the switch to wide receiver in his rookie year. He exceeded 1,000 yards receiving in a season four times and was selected to three Pro Bowls. Joiner finished his 18 AFL/NFL seasons with 750 receptions for 12,146 yards and 65 touchdowns.
»He retired as the then-NFL leader in career receptions, yards, and games played by a wide receiver (239).
»Joiner was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
Ed “Too Tall” Jones
DL; Tennessee State University; 1970-1973
»Jones signed with Tennessee State University to play basketball, but left the team after two seasons to play football under Head Coach John Merritt.
»His famous nickname comes from a teammate at his first football practice pointing out that his football pants didn’t fit, because he was “too tall” to play football.
»Ed became a two-time All-American defensive lineman, playing on a team that only lost two games en route to winning the Black College Football National Championships in 1971 and 1973. Jones ranks third in school history in sacks in a season (12) and fifth in career sacks (38).
»In 1974, Jones became the first player from a historically black college program to be selected as the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft when the Dallas Cowboys made him the No. 1 overall choice.
»Jones earned Pro Bowl honors three times. He retired at the end of the 1989 season, having never missed a game, playing the most games by any Cowboys player (232) and being tied with two others for most seasons (15).
OL; Bethune-Cookman University; 1963-1966
»Larry Little was a two-way tackle, team captain, and a three-time All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference choice at Bethune-Cookman College.
»He would go undrafted after his college career, and have a short stint as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers.
»Just before the 1969 campaign, however, he was traded to the Miami Dolphins and became a fixture at right guard during the 1970s when the Dolphins were the NFL’s dominant team.
»Little was a superb pass blocker, and a key asset to the Dolphins rushing attack. Little was named first-team All-NFL from 1971 through 1975 and again in 1977.
»He was selected to play in five Pro Bowls, and was named the NFL Players Association’s AFC Lineman of the Year three consecutive years.
»Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
TE; Savannah State University; 1986-1989
»Shannon Sharpe was a three-time All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection from 1987 to 1989 and the SIAC Player of the Year in 1987.
»He was selected as a Kodak Division II All-American in 1989, and was a three-time Pittsburgh Courier Black College All-American (1987-89).
»Sharpe led the Tigers’ to their best records in the program’s history: 7-3 in 1988 and 8-1 in 1989.
»Shannon was selected in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos (192nd overall), and played 12 seasons, winning two Super Bowls. Sharpe also had a two-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens that included another Super Bowl win.
»He finished his NFL career with the Broncos and retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions (815), receiving yards (10,060) and receiving touchdowns (62) by a tight end.
»Sharpe holds the distinction of being the first tight end to amass over 10,000 receiving yards and was Shannon was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
OL; Jackson State University; 1972-1976
»During his collegiate career at Jackson State, Slater was named to the Southwestern Athletic Conference All-Star Game three times.
»Slater was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Rams and played in 259 games from 1976 to 1995, setting an NFL record for offensive lineman.
»He was the first NFL player to play 20 seasons for one team. Slater became a starter in 1979 — the same season the Rams went to Super Bowl XIV.
»In 1980, he was a part of an offensive line that gave up just 29 sacks and helped the Rams finish second in the NFL in total offensive yards.
»Jackie played in seven Pro Bowls and was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
John “Big John” Merritt
Head Coach; Tennessee State University; 1953-1983
»Merritt had a record of 60-32-4 in his first job as head coach at Jackson State from 1953-62. However, his greatest success was as head coach at Tennessee State from 1963-1983 where he compiled a record of 172-33-7 for a winning percentage of .811.
»Five of his teams were unbeaten and five others only lost only one game.
»His teams were chosen by the Pittsburgh Courier seven times as the Black College National Champions.
»Merritt coached 144 players who played professional football, including Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Joe Gilliam, and Claude Humphrey. His total record for 31 years was 232-65-11 for a winning percentage of .753.
»John Merritt Boulevard in Nashville is named in his honor. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
Black College Football Commentator
»Neal started his broadcasting career over 30 years ago as a radio disc jockey before turning to television as a sportscaster working for several affiliates in the Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. markets.
»He spent 23 years with Black Entertainment Television as the lead commentator for historically black college/university (HBCU) sports.
»Neal joined ESPN in 2005, primarily serving as play-by-play announcer for HBCU football and basketball telecasts on ESPNU.
»Neal’s broadcast credits also include hosting NBA halftime and post-game shows and announcing gymnastics and track and field events at the first-ever Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986.