Pioneering black QB dies quietly in Canada


Bernie Custis photo courtesy cfhof.

The Talk of Fame Network is about many things, but one of the most important is honoring the history of the game and putting the modern game in its historic place. That’s why we hope our readers and listeners take a few minutes to read Steve Simmons’ moving column on the death of Bernie Custis.

So, who in the heck was Bernie Custis you ask? He was a pioneer.

He was the first black quarterback to start at a major university. He was the first to start at quarterback in professional football when he was sent to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League by Paul Brown. Brown felt America was not ready for a black backup to Otto Graham but knew Custis was too talented to release him to another NFL team.

So he sent him to Canada.

Custis passed away this week at 88, a quiet man who was a trailblazer. He opened the door to black quarterbacks in the CFL, and it was there that players Warren Moon went to learn his trade before returning to the NFL to forge a Hall-of-Fame career of his own.

Bernie Custis never raised a ruckus about the racism that cost him his chance in the NFL, and he never looked for special recognition as the first black starting quarterback in professional football in 1951 in Canada. In fact, when his old college roommate at Syracuse, a guy named Al Davis, kept offering him jobs with the Oakland Raiders he turned them all down to stay in his adopted country, a place where he found both opportunity and a life free of the bigotry that stained American life.

To get the full story on this trailblazing man, click on this link to read Simmons’ full column from the Toronto Sun. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/02/23/bernie-custis-the-quiet-pioneer-dies-at-88

Previous Polian wants HOF overhaul; Seymour hopes rings count
Next Omalu: "NFL brand is bleeding ... truth will always prevail"

2 Comments

  1. Sports Fan
    February 24, 2017
    Reply

    ATTN: 48 PFHOF Selectors/Voters – (Dan Fouts – James Lofton HOF Players)
    PFHOF
    NFL
    Talk Of Fame Sports Network

    GREAT Post Mr. Borges!

    “…one of the most important is honoring the history of the game…Trailblazer… free of the bigotry that for so long stained American life…”

    Speaks Volumes on so many levels and numerous topics!
    – Excellent Historically
    – Look at what Professional Football in America missed out on
    – “Cultural Diversity Inclusion”
    – Huge void!
    – Al Davis connection

    “1ST QB to start at a major university
    1ST QB to start professional football in Canada”

    And on this topic…
    Questions for all of you,
    Mr. Borges, “Dr. Data”, Mr. “Here Come The” Judge & All:

    In the Modern-Era
    Who is the 1ST Person of Color to start a Professional Football game in America?

  2. Sports Fan
    February 24, 2017
    Reply

    Continued from earlier comment:
    Twitter:
    Dave North‏
    “I only know Bernie Custis, the football player, from what I’ve heard (all good) but I know he’s the best school principal ever. #RIP”

    Clark Judge‏
    “Why the life … and death … of Bernie Custis should not be forgotten:”
    =
    “1ST QB to start at a major university
    1ST QB to start professional football in Canada”

    And on this topic…
    Questions for all of you, everyone
    Mr. Borges, “Dr. Data”, Mr. “Here Come The” Judge & All:

    In the Modern-Era:
    1. Who is the 1ST Person of Color to start a Professional Football game in America?

    2. Who is the 1ST Person of Color to start a Super Bowl?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.