The Black College Football Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2012. The newest members were selected from a list of 35 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Black College Football Hall of Fame Committee. The inductees will be honored February 18, 2012 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis during the third annual enshrinement ceremony.
The inductees will be Willie Brown (DB, Grambling State, 1959–1963), Harry Carson (DE, South Carolina State, 1972–1975), Eldridge Dickey (QB, Tennessee State, 1964–67), James Harris (QB Grambling State, 1965–1968), Claude Humphrey (DE, Tennessee State, 1964–67), Steve McNair (QB, Alcorn State, 1991–94), Willie Richardson (WR, Jackson State, 1959–1962), Johnny Sample (DB/RB, Maryland Eastern Shore, 1954–1958), Rayfield Wright (OL, Fort Valley State, 1963–1966), Cleve Abbott (head coach, Tuskegee, 1923–1954) and Jackie Graves (former NFL scout, former director of personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles).
The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October 2009 to honor the greatest football players and coaches from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Brown lettered all four years at split end and outside linebacker during his time at Grambling. He was a member of legendary coach Eddie Robinson’s first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship team in 1960. Although undrafted out of college, he would retire the only NFL player to intercept at least one pass in 16 consecutive seasons.
During his 12 years with the Oakland Raiders, he played in three AFL and six AFC championship games, as well as Super Bowls II and XI. He finished his career with 54 interceptions. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
Carson played for coach Willie Jeffries at South Carolina State and did not miss a single game in four years. He became the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player to win consecutive Defensive Player of the Year honors, and led the Bulldogs to consecutive conference titles. In 1975, he set school records with 117 tackles and 17 sacks.
Carson was a fourth round draft pick of the New York Giants in 1976. He spent all of his 13 seasons with them. He led the Giants in tackles for five seasons. In 2006, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Dickey was a three-time HBCU All-American at Tennessee State. He completed his collegiate career with 6,523 passing yards and 67 touchdowns. Dickey was considered a gifted athlete with his strongest positions being quarterback and punter. With Dickey under center, the 1966 TSU team earned its first undefeated, untied season and first National Black College Football Championship. In 1968, the Oakland Raiders drafted Dickey in the first round.
With Harris at quarterback, Grambling won or shared all four SWAC titles. He was named MVP of the 1967 Orange Blossom Classic. As a senior, Harris passed for 1,972 yards and 21 touchdowns on only 225 attempts. In three years as Grambling’s quarterback, he led the Tigers to a 24-5-1 record.
He went on to be drafted by the Buffalo Bills and became the first Black player to start a season at quarterback. In 1974, he led the Los Angeles Rams to an NFC Western Division title and their first playoff victory since 1951. Harris then became the first African-American quarterback to start a conference championship game. Harris was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team in 1974 and was awarded MVP of that game.
Humphrey was an All-American lineman at Tennessee State under coach John Merritt. Humphrey helped the Big Blue Tigers to a 35-3-1 record. The Atlanta Falcons drafted Humphrey in the first round with the third overall choice. He played on the Philadelphia Eagles 1981 Super Bowl team.
McNair had many standout seasons with Alcorn State. In 1992, he threw for 3,541 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more. In 1993, the Braves upped their record to 8-3 while McNair threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. In his senior year, he gained nearly 6,000 yards rushing and passing, along with 53 touchdowns.
He was drafted by the Houston Oilers with the third overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft and became a full time starter for 10 years, leading the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl XXXIV.
Richardson became one of the most honored players in the great history of the SWAC. He was a four-time member of the Pittsburgh Courier Black All-American team. In his final two seasons, he led Jackson State to a SWAC title and a Black College National Championship. Richardson caught 171 passes for 36 touchdowns and played safety on defense.
In the NFL, Richardson was a seventh round selection by the Baltimore Colts. With the Colts and Miami Dolphins he played eight seasons. He also played for the Colts in 1969 Super Bowl.
Sample was a standout at Maryland State College. In 1957, playing offense and defense, he was selected to the Little All-American Team by the Pittsburgh Courier and to the All-Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Team. During his college career, he led the Hawks to an overall record of 28 wins, one loss and one tie, while averaging 21.6 points a game.
He is the only professional football player to have won all three: an NFL, AFL and Super Bowl championship. Sample finished his 11 professional football seasons with 41 interceptions, which he returned for 460 yards and four touchdowns. On special teams, he returned 68 punts for 559 yards and a touchdown, along with 60 kickoffs for 1,560 yards and a touchdown. Sample led the NFL in punt return yards in 1961.
Wright was known as a great athlete for his size. After being a standout at Fort Valley State, Wright was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as a tight end. After three years of playing tight end, he played 166 games starting at right tackle and played in six NFC championship games and five Super Bowls winning two of them (Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Abbott was the eighth football coach for the Tuskegee University Golden Tigers located in Tuskegee, Al. He held that position for 32 seasons, from 1923 until 1954. His football coaching record at Tuskegee, where he was also a Hall of Fame track coach, was 202 wins, 97 losses and 27 ties. This ranks him first at the school in total wins and fifth in winning percentage (.661). The football stadium at Tuskegee bears Abbott’s name.
A former director of personnel and scout for the Philadelphia Eagles, Graves made a huge impact on Black College Football. Graves was a pioneer in bringing qualified players from the HBCU system to the professional ranks.