Marion Motley

A Life In and Beyond Football


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About the Book

As a star linebacker for the Cleveland Browns in the 1940s and 1950s, Marion Motley invented the modern concept of the fullback. In 1946, he and three other players broke professional football’s color barrier, helping set the stage for Jackie Robinson’s desegregation of Major League baseball in 1947. Retiring with five championships and the universal respect of his peers, Motley returned to ordinary life as a black man in pre–Civil Rights Act America. Because his career pre-dated nationally televised football, Motley’s name is largely unknown today, when a figure of his stature would enjoy celebrity as a coach or owner. This first ever biography tells the story of the football player Sports Illustrated’s Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman described as the greatest ever to take the field.

About the Author(s)

SABR member William H. Johnson is a retired naval flight officer. He has coauthored a book, and written an array of newspaper and magazine articles, on the story of baseball in eastern Iowa. He lives in Hinesville, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

William H. Johnson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 221
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8912-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4716-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. Early Years: Motley’s Great Northern Migration 9
2. The College Years: South Carolina and Nevada 25
3. Post College and Navy Football 42
4. Welcome to Pro Football (1946) 58
5. The First Repeat Champions (1947) 82
6. The First Perfect Season (1948) 99
7. The Last Days of the AAFC (1949) 112
8. New League, Same Outcome: Joining the NFL (1950) 126
9. Decline and Fall of a Legend (1951–1955) 140
10. Life After Football (1956–1998) 156
11. Legacy (1999) 171
Appendix: United States Senate Resolution Honoring Motley and Bill Willis, 2006 183
Notes 187
Bibliography 201
Index 205