Film highlights historic HBCU football game

“1ST & GOAL IN THE BRONX: Grambling vs. Morgan State 1968” premieres Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011 at 7 p.m. on CBS. — SUBMITTED PHOTO

CBS Sports Network has produced a major sports film titled “1ST & GOAL IN THE BRONX: Grambling vs. Morgan State 1968.” The documentary details a monumental game between Grambling State and Morgan State. The meeting was the first historically Black college football game played in New York City.

The one-hour documentary airs on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. Viewers can check their local cable listings for the CBS Sports Network.

The game was played exactly 43 years ago at Yankee Stadium in front of more than 60,000 fans. Grambling State and Morgan State had two of the best Black college football programs in the country. Eddie Robinson coached the Grambling State Tigers for more than 50 years. Earl Banks was the long-time head coach of Morgan State.

Through the lens of this historic game, the film explores the history of Black college football and segregated America, as well as the political and cultural climate surrounding this matchup. The documentary features a number of interviews with former Grambling State players James “Shack” Harris, Doug Williams and Willie Brown. The film interviewed former Morgan State players Willie Lanier, George Nock and Raymond Chester. The documentary also interviews Michael Hurd, author and historian, Jerry Izenberg, sports columnist, Doris Robinson, Eddie Robinson’s widow and others who followed Grambling State and Morgan State football.

Overall, 31 players from this game were drafted to the NFL or AFL (American Football League). The game has been played every year since 1968 and officially became the New York Urban League Classic in 1971, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last week when Howard defeated Morgan State, 14-9 in the Meadowlands. The New York Urban League was played at Yankee Stadium until 1987, when it moved to the Meadowlands.

The documentary also highlighted Paul “Tank” Younger, Grambling State running back, who was the first Black college player to play in the NFL. The film credited Collie Nicholson, former Grambling State sports information director, with promoting and organizing the game.

 

Contact staff writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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