Short Story. A Pioneer Nobody knows by Dewey Edward Chester. The art of playing football… A great story for a great Monday!
Aside from the fact that Fullback Jim Brown was the greatest National Football League Runner, Cleveland’s Fullback Marion Motley was the Pioneer for all National Football League African American players.
Marion established his place in American history—-before Jackie Robinson’s milestone of integrating Major League Baseball. Marion’s life detailed Civil Rights in the modern era of American Sports. But he died of a broken heart.
When he retired as the greatest Runner in the League, no team owner across America would hire him to coach. They whispered he didn’t have the intellect to contribute to the game.
This was a tragedy, because the Civil Rights Movement was just around the corner, and he missed its opportunities. He had gained wisdom from Coach Paul Brown, and would have been an excellent Art teacher to young players like Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly…or to the plethora of African American Runners who entered the League in the ‘60s.
Remarkable, is that the Motley family has kept his old home on Lucerne Avenue, a sanctuary. Nothing has been touched in it—–as though he was coming home after a hard game against the New York Giants.
Artistic Glasses and plates are still on tables, vintage furniture and old photographs are hanging on the walls, complete the living room —- the place is a virtual Art museum of an American Pioneer.
Marion’s Art consists of personal letters to National Football League Hierarchy, to teammates of the 1940s, autographed, never published pictures of Paul Brown, just weeks before his Cleveland men became the first integrated team in American professional sports history—before Jackie Robinson!
Marion’s home contains personal letters to George Toliaferro, the first Black man drafted by the National Football League; pictures and newspaper clippings from the ‘30s —- from Ohio’s Canton-McKinley High School, from his college years, from the AAFC, from the NFL.
There are Tiffany trophies, carved plaques, and honorary footballs —- literally a thousand pieces of Art.
But none of this treasure-trove of history has value, because Marion Motley is a Pioneer nobody knows.