2005 Senior Nominees

08/26/2004

Two of pro football’s true pioneers Benny Friedman and Fritz Pollard, have been selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee as finalists for election into the Hall of Fame with the Class of 2005.

Friedman and Pollard will join 13 still-to-be-named modern-era candidates on the list of finalists from which the Class of 2005 will be selected. The Hall of Fame selection meeting will be held on February 5, 2005, the day before Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida. To be elected, Friedman and Pollard must each receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The Hall’s 39-member Board of Selectors will elect between three and six new members during next February’s meeting.

Friedman
Friedman, a two-time All-America quarterback at Michigan, played with the Cleveland Bulldogs (1927), Detroit Wolverines (1928), New York Giants (1929-1931), and the Brooklyn Dodgers (1932-1934). When he turned pro, the college football sensation was greeted with fanfare that was exceeded only by the media attention given future Hall of Fame halfback Red Grange when he turned pro in 1925. A versatile player and field general, Friedman could run, kick, and most importantly pass the ball better than any player who preceded him and for many years better than those who followed him.

During his first four pro seasons, Friedman’s play was nothing short of remarkable, earning him first-team All-NFL honors each season. Although official statistics were not kept, he is believed to have completed more than half his passes, at a time when 35 percent was considered a very good performance. From 1927 through 1930 Benny tossed 11, nine, 20, and 13 touchdown passes, leading the league each year. In 1928, he led the league in both rushing touchdowns and touchdown passes; no other player has ever accomplished that. His 20 touchdown passes in 1929, including four in one game, were both NFL records for years.

Following the 1928 season New York Giants owner Tim Mara purchased the Detroit franchise just to secure the services of Friedman. Mara’s decision was based not only on the quarterback’s league-leading performances, but also on his all-important gate appeal. He proved to be an asset in both categories, not only for the Giants, but for the emerging pro league as well. Although very durable, a knee injury coupled with the rigors of serving as an assistant coach at Yale, Friedman’s productivity dropped in 1931. Still the player-coach managed to earn third-team All-NFL honors that year and second-team All-NFL honors in 1933.

Pollard

Fritz Pollard, an All-America halfback from Brown University was a pro football pioneer in more ways than one. The 5-9, 165-pound back, who led Brown to the Rose Bowl in 1915, turned pro in 1919, when he joined the Akron (OH) Pros following army service during World War I. In 1920, the Pros joined the newly founded American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League. That season, with Pollard leading the charge, the Pros went undefeated (8-0-3) to win the league's first crown.

As a member of the new league, Pollard immediately earned a place in pro football history as one of just two African Americans in the new league. In 1921 he earned another distinction becoming the first African American head coach in NFL history when the Pros named him co-coach of the team.

Contemporary accounts indicate that Pollard, an exciting elusive runner, was the most feared running back in the fledgling league. During his pro football career the two-time All-America played and sometimes coached for four different NFL teams, the Pros/Indians (1920-21/1925-26), the Milwaukee Badgers (1922), the Hammond Pros (1923, 1925), and the Providence Steam Roller (1925). Fritz also spent time in 1923 and 1924 playing for the Gilberton Cadamounts, a strong independent pro teams in the Pennsylvania “Coal League.”

In 1928, Pollard organized and coached the Chicago Black Hawks, an all-African American professional team based in the Windy City. Pollard's Black Hawks played against white teams around Chicago, but enjoyed their greatest success by scheduling exhibition games against West Coast teams during the winter months. From 1929 until 1932 when the Depression caused the team to fold, the Black Hawks had become one of the more popular teams on the West Coast.

Senior Nominees, 1972-2005


Friedman Head ShotBenny Friedman's Career Statistics

Quarterback – 5-10, 183 – Michigan


1927 Cleveland Bulldogs, 1928 Detroit Wolverines,
1929-1931 New York Giants, 1932-1934 Brooklyn Dodgers
(eight playing seasons)

 

Year Team G
Att
Comp
Yards
TDs
Int
Rating
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
XP
FG
Pts.
1927 Cleveland 13
11
2
11
0
23
1928 Detroit 10
9
6
19
0
55
1929 New York 15
20
2
20
0
32
1930 New York 15
13
6
10
1
49
1931 New York 9
3
2
0
0
12
1932 Brooklyn 11
74
23
319
5
10
28.9
88
250
2.8
0
5
1
8
1933 Brooklyn 7
80
42
594
5
7
61.1
55
177
3.2
0
6
0
6
1934 Brooklyn 1
13
5
16
0
2
7.1
9
31
3.4
0
0
0
0
Career Total 81
167
70
929
66
19
60.2
152
458
3
18
71
2
185
Additional Career Statistics: Receiving: 5-67


Pollard_HSFritz Pollard's Playing Statistics

Back, Coach – 5-9, 165 – Bates, Brown

1920-1921, 1925-1926 Akron Pros/Indians, 1922 Milwaukee Badgers,
1923, 1925 Hammond Pros, 1925 Providence Steam Roller

(six playing seasons)

 

1920 Akron
11
1921 Akron
12
1922 Milwaukee
7
1923 Hammond
3
1925 Hammond/Akron/Providence
13
1926 Akron
4
Career Total
49
Additional Career Statistics: Passing TDs: 5; Rushing TDs: 11; Receiving TDs: 1

Fritz Pollard's Coaching Record

Team Year
W
L
T
PCT.
Akron* 1921
8
3
1
.727
Hammond 1925
0
1
0
.000
  TOT
8
4
1
.654
* Co-coach with Elgie Tobin
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