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Bobby Grier: broke the color barrier in the Sugar Bowl

Georgia’s governor wanted to block Georgia Tech from playing against Pittsburgh in 1956

2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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

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2:55 PMBobby Grier was the first black football player to play in a bowl game in the South.

Born: 1933

His story: Grier grew up in Massillon, Ohio, and played fullback and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh during the 1952-55 seasons. When the Panthers made it to the 1956 Sugar Bowl against Georgia Tech, there was controversy about Grier, Pittsburgh’s lone black player, being allowed to play in the game in New Orleans, Louisiana. Georgia’s governor, Marvin Griffin, wanted Georgia Tech to boycott the game because of Grier’s participation. Georgia Tech students protested, and the Georgia Board of Regents voted to allow Georgia Tech to play but barred Georgia teams from playing future games against integrated teams (a rule that was never enforced). Many people in New Orleans also wanted to block Grier playing in the bowl game in the racially segregated South. But the game went on and Grier became the first black player in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia Tech won, 7-0, after a pass interference penalty on Grier set up the game’s only touchdown. Referee Rusty Coles, who was from the Pittsburgh area, later admitted it was a bad call.

Fast fact: Grier received strong support from his teammates and the university. They would not play in the Sugar Bowl without him: “No Grier, no game.”

Quotable: “I didn’t push that man,” said Grier, who was in tears after the Sugar Bowl. “I was in front of him, how could I have pushed him?”

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