Jackie Robinson

How the media helped overturn the NFL’s unwritten ban on black players

How the media helped overturn the NFL’s unwritten ban on black players

On a January afternoon 71 years ago, Halley Harding crowded into a conference room at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and posed a question that transformed the NFL.

The outspoken columnist for the L.A. Tribune, a weekly black newspaper, wanted to know if the Rams would employ black players.

The question, by one account, drained the color from the face of Rams general manager Chile Walsh. He had just pitched the powerful nine-member public commission in charge of the Coliseum on the virtues of the franchise leasing the facility. The NFL champion Rams, approved by league owners three days earlier to relocate from Cleveland to L.A., viewed the 103,000-seat stadium as an ideal...

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