You might have noticed that the College Football Hall of Fame announced its latest inductees on Thursday. Fine men, all of them, but as long as Chuck Ealey remains off that list, the hall is a fraud.
With a capital F.
Try being a black quarterback at any level in the late 60s, early 70s. That was Chuck Ealey. In his four seasons at Toledo he went 35-0 as a starter. That's the best record, ever, by a college starting quarterback. From the beginning of high school to his first year of a distinguished career in the CFL, Ealey lost once.
The NFL didn't draft him after Ealey made it known that he wanted to play quarterback, having led the Rockets to what is now the fourth-longest winning streak in history. Unfortunately, discrimination was alive and well back then. Coaches and general managers didn't consider him at his natural position largely because of his race.
He has been kept out of the hall because of a technicality. To be considered for the hall of fame, players must make an All-American team recognized by the NCAA. Ealey was a Football News All-American in 1971. The NCAA didn't recognize the Football News All-American team until 1983. Is that a reason to keep out one of the most accomplished players in history?
Of course not. The site InductChuck.com is doing all it can to keep Chuck's legacy alive. Today, he is a 58-year-old businessman in Toronto, a credit to his company, his school and his sport. He was long ago resigned to his fate despite having every reason to be bitter.
The hall of fame is supposed to be about athletic accomplishments and also fame. Ealey has been a credit to the game and also his race. The hall looks petty and foolish for not allowing Ealey in. It changed its rules a couple of years ago by inducting Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden while they were still active. The hall wanted to honor the two coaching greats while they were still alive.
One of Thursday's inductees was Harvard's William Lewis, the first African-American All-American in history (1893). One-hundred sixteen years later, the winningest African-American quarterback in history can't join Lewis because of some fine print. The hall should do the right thing for Chuck Ealey. It would bring glory to a great player and credibility to a hall that lacks what it takes to be truly great.