Gene Washington (02:07)
Former teammates talk about playing with wide receiver Gene Washington. He has three daughters and always prioritized family.
Maya Washington (02:21)
Gene stopped playing football by the time his daughter Maya was born. Current Michigan State University players understand her dad's contribution to football better than she does. Maya feels her dad has never understood her art.
Gene's Childhood (07:56)
Gene and his future wife Claudith grew up in segregated Texas. Maya visits her relatives to learn about their childhoods. Gene started running track because his father did not want him to play football.
Segregated Football (05:31)
Black athletes could only play at black colleges in the south. Duffy Daugherty, of Michigan State University, had been recruiting black players and mentoring black college coaches since the 1940s. Bubba Smith played against Gene in high school and recommended him to Daughtery.
Black Students at Michigan State (04:36)
Most black students were on academic or athletic scholarships. University President John Hannah supported Daugherty's push to integrate the football team and recruit southern players. Away from the Jim Crow South, many players made Michigan State their new home.
Michigan State Football (03:39)
The 1965 team had an amazing amount of talent and chemistry. Daugherty was criticized for the team being too black as it seemed more likely they would win the national championship. Football is a major part of the school's traditions.
Black Student Life in the 1960s (02:39)
The black community at Michigan State was small, and many dated each other. The football players were not supposed to date white girls.
Gene's Legacy (07:12)
Maya talks with Daugherty's daughter Dree about separating herself from her father's legacy. Maya questions why her father never taught her about football and why she never pursued a sport.
Racism in Football (06:50)
Despite being one of the best in the 1960s, many schools refused to play Michigan State. The team broke the myth that a majority white team was needed to succeed. The team received significant media attention at the Rose Bowl in 1965.
1966 Season (05:34)
After losing the Rose Bowl, Jimmy Raye became the starting quarterback, one of only 13 black quarterbacks in the country. The number of black players made Michigan State a popular team among black Americans. They won the National and Big Ten Championships.
NFL Prospects (03:33)
Four black players went in the first round of the 1967 NFL draft. Gene and Clinton Jones went to the Vikings. The team went to the Super Bowl four times.
Racism in the NFL (02:06)
Maya's sisters discuss growing up in Minnesota with a famous dad and being one of the few black families. Some hotels turned away black NFL players. Many felt the NFL's treatment of black players was not fully integrated.
Gene's NFL Generation (07:32)
NFL players had low salaries and minimal training facilities. Gene worked a second job to support his family. Players sued the league to get more power in decision making.
Gene Post-NFL (04:33)
Gene was traded to the Denver Broncos and played one year before he retired due to injury. In retirement, he continued to support and work with Michigan State as a thank you for supporting him.
Credits: Through the Banks of the Red Cedar (02:15)
Credits: Through the Banks of the Red Cedar
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