TUFTS WASHINGTON MATURE

NFL Pioneer Kenny Washington

With football season underway, we're focusing on the first African American to sign a contract with the NFL. Kenny Washington, a Los Angeles native, attended UCLA where his 1,914 rushing yards were a school record for stood up for 34 years. In 1939 he was awarded the Fairbanks Award as the most outstanding player in college football. Can you guess what famous athlete was Washington's teammate at UCLA? That's right, non-other than Jackie Robinson. They made up a potent backfield that lives on in Bruins lore. After graduation, Chicago's George Halas tried to sign Washington. Washington decided to play for the Bears-- but not the Chicago Bears,  Instead he signed with the Hollywood Bears of the Pacific League. In 1946, Washington earned his big break and suited up for the Los Angeles Rams.  He was soon joined by his UCLA and Hollywood Bears teammate, Woody Strode. In his three-year career with the Rams, Washington ran for 859 yards and 8 touchdowns. After his playing career, Washington remained a trailblazer as one of the first African American athletes to act on the big screen. Can you name one of the movies Kenny Washington starred in? You guessed it!  The Jackie Robinson story of course