In Black America Podcast: John B. Wooten, “Godfather of the NFL – Part II
On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents his second, and final discussion with John B. Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation. When the Cleveland Browns selected Wooten in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft, it proved to be one of the most important drafts in Cleveland Browns history. He played for the Browns from 1959-1967 and then the Washington Redskins from 1967-1968 and during the 1960-1963 off seasons he was a junior high school teacher at Addison Junior High School in Cleveland, Ohio.
In Advancing the Ball, N. Jeremi Duru chronicles the campaign of Wooten to right this wrong and undo decades of discriminatory head coach hiring practices–an initiative that finally bore fruit when he joined forces with attorneys Cyrus Mehri and the late Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Together with a few allies, the triumvirate galvanized the NFL’s African American assistant coaches to stand together for equal opportunity and convinced the league to enact the “Rooney Rule,” which stipulates that every team must interview at least one minority candidate when searching for a new head coach. In doing so, they spurred a movement that would substantially impact the NFL and, potentially, the nation.