What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Bernie Custis: the first black pro quarterback to start in the modern era

Syracuse standout found success in Canada

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

NBA

Lauryn Hill is still dropping knowledge

‘Poverty isn’t something that should exist in this world at this point’

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Alice Coachman: the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal

She took the high jump at the 1948 Olympics in London

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Charlie Sifford: the first black member of the PGA Tour

He joined in 1961 after the tour removed its ‘Caucasian-only’ clause

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor: world champion cyclist

He was the second black world champion

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs win silver for USA women’s bobsled

Meyers Taylor medals in third straight Olympics

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

‘The Plug’ podcast: NBA All-Star recap + Chris Tucker on ‘Rush Hour 4’ (Episode 11)

One last time for the craziness of NBA All-Star Weekend 2018

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

As she says goodbye to Olivia Pope, Kerry Washington opens up 

The style icon is honored at the 20th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards

12:54 PMBernie Custis is widely considered to be the first black quarterback to start in the pros in the modern era. He started for Canada’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951.

Born: Sept. 23, 1928

Died: Feb. 23, 2017

His story: Custis, who grew up in Philadelphia, played quarterback for Syracuse University from 1948-50. The Cleveland Browns drafted Custis sixth overall in 1951. Because Custis was black, and also because Cleveland had Otto Graham at quarterback, the Browns told Custis they would move him to safety. Custis did not want to change positions, so the Browns released him on the condition he not sign with another NFL team. He went to Canada to play for the Tiger-Cats, starting every game in 1951 while leading the team to 7-5 record and a playoff berth. He was named an All-Star at quarterback. Still, Custis switched to running back for the 1952 season. He was a member of Hamilton’s Grey Cup championship team in 1953. He played two seasons at running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders before retiring after the 1956 season. He remained in Canada and became a teacher and football coach.

Fast fact: Custis’ roommate at Syracuse was future Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

Quotable: “Trailblazers are rightly remembered for being the first,” Canadian Football League commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said after Custis’ death. “The first black professional quarterback in the modern era starting with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, should be revered as well for being one of our best. A world-class athlete, he excelled both as a quarterback and a running back. A tremendous leader, he was a successful coach who had a positive impact on countless young lives. A true gentleman, he brought honour to our game and our league, and provided us with a role model to emulate.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.