Bill Willis was an All-America tackle at Ohio State where he excelled as a two-way player.
Willis gained notoriety as a defensive middle guard in which his quickness off the line earned him a spot on the Browns inaugural roster.
Undersized by pro football standards of 1946, Willis would go on to earn first-team all-league selection seven times.
Although it was at middle guard that Willis earned much acclaim, he is also remembered as a solid blocker and devastating tackler.
Bill Willis, along with Marion Motley, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington permanently reintegrated professional football in 1946, a full year prior to Jackie Robinson doing the same in major league baseball.
Willis presented former teammate Marion Motley for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.
Willis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. Here he stands with his presenter and former coach, Paul Brown.
The Class of 1977 (L-R), Forrest Gregg, Frank Gifford, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr, and Bill Willis.
Bill Willis delivers his enshrinement speech from the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 30, 1977.
Willis also played in three NFL Pro Bowls.
On May 9, 2006 the Ohio General Assembly honored Bill Willis with a Commendation by the House of Representatives and Senate. The Commendation is in recognition of Willis' historic role in the re-integration of professional football in America in 1946. Willis is seen here with current Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel.
Willis (center) seen at halftime of the 2006 AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game in which he was presented with Senate Resolution 533 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the permanent reintegration of professional football.
Willis accepts the Resolution.
Bill Willis' first professional contract in which he was paid a salary of $4,000.
Bill Willis' Hall of Fame mural.
Bill Willis' Hall of Fame bust.
Willis is prominently featured in the Pro Football's African-American Pioneers exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.