The NFL joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) at the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl in Atlanta to kick off their enhanced partnership. The initiative –  Strength of HBCUs, Impacting Pro Football Since 1948 –  will celebrate and honor the history and impact HBCUs and their players have had on the game and work to increase career opportunities for students and athletic administrators at these institutions.

The celebration of the legacy and impact of HBCUs and their players will continue at Super Bowl LI in Houston, the NFL announced yesterday. The NFL will carry on the tradition of honoring Legends and historic players at the Super Bowl by recognizing Pro Football Hall of Fame players who attended HBCUs, including Jerry Rice, Michale Strahan and Aeneas Williams.

The celebration will culminate with an on-field, pregame ceremony with these players at NRG Stadium on Sunday, February 5. (a full list is below)

“The HBCU influence on the NFL goes beyond the evolution of the game and reaches deep into the very fabric of football, and we are honored to celebrate their achievements at Super Bowl LI in Houston”, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV. “Our partnership with the HBCUs is an
important initiative which celebrates the tremendous legacy fostered by these institutions that continue to contribute a standard of excellence and character for our game”.

Hosted in conjunction with the Celebration Bowl, the inaugural NFL Careers in Football Forum introduced 80 students and entry-level athletic department administrators from the 23 MEAC and SWAC institutions to career opportunities in professional football. The event featured panel discussions with NFL and club executives, resume and skill building workshops and a behind-the scenes look into football operations on game day.

The NFL has a longstanding relationship with HBCUs, which have developed some of the greats of the game. Twenty-nine of the 303 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame attended HBCUs. Earlier this year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF) and the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF), announced a partnership that will result in a permanent home for the BCFHOF as part of the new Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village on the PFHOF’s campus in Canton, Ohio, adding to the history and association of HBCUs and their players’ influence on the game.

To learn more about the partnership and the HBCU players that impacted the game, watch the NFL Films-produced tribute – https://youtu.be/fesPPn1mFKs.

Below is a list of the 29 Pro Football Hall of Fame members who will be recognized at Super Bowl LI. In addition to the Hall of Fame players, NFL Legends and former Grambling players, Doug Williams andthe late Paul “Tank” Younger, will be honored in Houston for their legendary achievements and profound impact on the game.

Lem Barney – Jackson State
Elvin Bethea – North Carolina A&T
Mel Blount – Southern
Roosevelt Brown – Morgan State
Willie Brown – Grambling
Buck Buchanan – Grambling
Harry Carson – South Carolina State
Willie Davis – Grambling
Richard Dent – Tennessee State
Bob Hayes – Florida A&M
Claude Humphrey – Tennessee State
Len Ford – Morgan State
Ken Houston – Prairie View
Charlie Joiner – Grambling
Deacon Jones – Mississippi Valley State
Leroy Kelly – Morgan State
Willie Lanier – Morgan State
Larry Little – Bethune Cookman
Walter Payton – Jackson State
Jerry Rice – Mississippi Valley State
Shannon Sharpe – Savannah State
Art Shell – Maryland Eastern Shore
Jackie Slater – Jackson State
John Stallworth – Alabama A&M
Michael Strahan – Texas Southern
Emmitt Thomas – Bishop
Aeneas Williams – Southern
Rayfield Wright – Fort Valley State

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