FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marques Fitch
Black College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 Announced
Black College Football Hall of Fame Fourth Annual Enshrinement Ceremony
to be Held February 16, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia
October 23, 2012 (Atlanta, GA) – Today the Black College Football Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2013. The newest members were selected from a list of 35 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee comprised of journalists and former football executives from around the country. Former inductees also submitted their votes for who will join them in this elite group.
The inductees will be honored February 16, 2013 at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia at the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s Fourth Annual Enshrinement Ceremony presented by the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL Network’s Charles Davis will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Enshrinement Ceremony.
Black College Football Hall of Fame - Class of 2013
About the Player Inductees
Elvin Bethea, LB (NC A&T, 1964-1967)
Elvin Bethea, was a Pittsburgh Courier All-American three years in a row while at North Carolina A&T. In college, he played offensive guard and tackle as well as defensive end and linebacker. Despite being selected as an offensive lineman in the third round of the 1968 AFL/NFL draft, Bethea starred for 16 seasons as a defensive end with the Houston Oilers. Bethea played his entire career with the Houston Oilers. In 210 games, including a stretch of 135 consecutive games, he didn’t miss a game until breaking his arm in 1977. Bethea would be selected to eight pro bowls. In 2003 he became the first player from North Carolina A&T University to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Charles “Choo Choo” Brackins, QB (Prairie View A&M, 1951-1954)
Charles Brackins, led his team to 33 victories out of 37 games during his time at Prairie View A&M University. He was a big, tall passer at 6’2" and 205 pounds. Brackins was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 16th round of the 1955 NFL draft, making him the first Black College alumnus to play quarterback in the NFL. He played in only one game during the 1955 season, in the closing minutes of a game against the Cleveland Browns on October 23, 1955.
Joe “Jefferson Street” Gilliam, Jr., QB (TSU, 1968-1971)
Joe Gilliam grew up on the campus of Tennessee State University. His father was a defensive coordinator at TSU. Gilliam played from 1969 to 1971, breaking every major passing record at the school and countless other black college records. He was known to be one of the most popular players in Tennessee History and gained his nickname, because it was said his name was called all along historic Jefferson Street, which runs near the TSU campus in Nashville, Tennessee. Gilliam was an All-American in 1970 and 1971. Gilliam was drafted in the 11th-round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 NFL Draft. He became the Steelers' starting quarterback in 1974, and is known as the catalyst of the 1975 Super Bowl Team although he did not finish the year as the starter.
Ken Houston, DB (Prairie View A&M, 1964-1967)
For a short time at Prairie View A&M he was a center, and then became the starting linebacker and was selected All-American in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Houston was drafted in the ninth round of the 1967 AFL-NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. In 1971 he set an NFL record with five touchdown returns (four interceptions and one fumble). Throughout his professional career, Houston intercepted 49 passes, recovered 21 fumbles, and scored 12 touchdowns. During his stints with the Oilers and Redskins he appeared in 10 Pro Bowls. He was ranked number 61 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999. In 1986, Houston was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Charlie Joiner, WR (Grambling State University, 1965-1968)
During his time at GSU, the Tigers earned the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship multiple times. Joiner’s record at Grambling was 31-9-1, including a 9-1 campaign in 1967 that led to a Black College National Championship. Joiner led all GSU receivers from 1966-68, gaining 2,066 yards. Joiner was named first-team All-SWAC three times. Joiner was drafted in the fourth round by the AFL’s Houston Oilers and started his career as a defensive back, but he made the switch to wide receiver in his rookie year. He exceeded 1,000 yards receiving in a season four times and was selected to three Pro Bowls. Joiner finished his 18 AFL/NFL seasons with 750 receptions for 12,146 yards and 65 touchdowns. He retired as the then-NFL leader in career receptions, yards, and games played by a wide receiver (239). In 1999, he was ranked number 100 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Joiner was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1992, he was named to the Sheridan Broadcast Network’s All-Time Black College Football Team.
Ed “Too Tall” Jones, DL (Tennessee State University, 1970-1973)
Jones signed with Tennessee State University to play basketball, but left the team after two seasons, to concentrate on playing football under head coach John Merritt. His famous nickname comes from a teammate at his first football practice pointing out that his football pants didn't fit, because he was “too tall to play football. He became a two time All-American defensive lineman, playing on a team that only lost two games, en route to winning the Black College Football National Championships in 1971 and 1973. Jones ranks third in school history in sacks in a season (12) and fifth in career sacks (38). In 1974, Jones became the first player from a historically black college program to be selected as the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. Jones earned Pro-Bowl honors three times. He retired at the end of the 1989 season, having never missed a game, playing the most games by any Cowboys player (232) and being tied with two others for most seasons (15). He is the fifth leading tackler in franchise history with 1,032. In 1992, Jones was named to the Sheridan Broadcast Network’s All-Time Black College Football Team.
Larry Little, OL (Bethune-Cookman University, 1963-1966)
Larry Little was a two-way tackle, team captain, and a three-time All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference choice at Bethune-Cookman College. He would go undrafted after his college career, and have a short stint as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers. Just before the 1969 campaign, however, he was traded to the Dolphins and became a fixture at right guard during the 1970s when the Dolphins were a dominant team in pro football. Little was a superb pass blocker, and a key asset to the Dolphin’s rushing attack. Little was named first-team All-NFL rom 1971 through 1975 and again in 1977. He was selected to play in five Pro Bowls, and was named the NFL Players Association's AFC Lineman of the Year three consecutive years. In 1992, Little was named to the Sheridan Broadcast Network’s All-Time Black College Football Team.
Shannon Sharpe, TE (Savannah State University, 1986-1989)
Sharpe was a three-time All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection from 1987 to 1989 and the SIAC Player of the Year in 1987. He was selected as a Kodak Division II All-American in 1989, and was a three-time Pittsburgh Courier Black College All-American (1987-89). He led the Tigers' football team to their best records in the program's history: 7-3 in 1988 and 8-1 in 1989. Sharpe was drafted in the 7th round of the 1990 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos, 192nd overall. He played 12 seasons for the Broncos, winning two Super Bowls. He also had a two-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens that included another Super Bowl win. He would finish his NFL career with the Broncos and retire as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions (815), receiving yards (10,060) and receiving touchdowns (62) by a tight end. Sharpe holds the distinction of being the first tight end to amass over 10,000 receiving yards. Shannon was also named a member of the NFL's first team All-Decade team of the 1990s. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Jackie Slater, OL (Jackson State University, 1972-1976)
At Jackson State University, Slater was selected to the Southwestern Athletic Conference All-Star Game three times, and as a senior, was a first-team All-America selection. After his senior season, he was invited to participate in the College All-Star Game. Slater was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Rams. He played in 259 games from 1976 to 1995, setting a record for offensive lineman. He was the first NFL player to play 20 seasons for one team. Slater became a starter in 1979 and that season the Rams went to Super Bowl XIV. In 1980 he was a part of an offensive line that gave up just 29 sacks and helped the Rams finish second in the NFL in total offensive yards. In 1983, he and the Rams offensive line allowed a league-low 23 sacks while also paving the way for running back Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards. He was voted the National Football League Players Association NFC Offensive Lineman of the year four times. He played in seven Pro Bowls. In 2001, Slater was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 1992, Slater was named to Sheridan Broadcast Network’s All-Time Black College Football Team.
About the Coach
John “Big John” Merritt, Head Coach (Tennessee State, 1953-1983)
Merritt had a record of 60-32-4 in his first job as head coach at Jackson State from 1953-62. However, his greatest success was as the Head Coach at Tennessee State from 1963 -1983. He compiled a record of 172-33-7 record. Five of his teams were unbeaten, five lost only one
game. His teams were chosen by the Pittsburgh Courier seven times as the Black College National Champions. Merritt coached 144 players who went into pro football, including, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Joe Gilliam, and Claude Humphrey. His total record for 31 years was 232-65-11. John Merritt Boulevard in Nashville is named in his honor. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
About the Contributor
Charlie Neal, Commentator
Neal started his broadcasting career over 30 years ago as a radio disc jockey before turning to television as a sportscaster working for several affiliates in the Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. markets. He spent 23 years with BET, as the lead commentator for HBCU sports. Charlie Neal joined ESPN in 2005, primarily serving as play-by-play announcer for Historically Black College/University football and basketball telecasts on ESPNU. Neal’s broadcast credits also include hosting NBA halftime and post-game shows and announcing for gymnastics and track and field events at the first-ever Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986.