Bobby Grier (1933-2021)
Bobby Grier was a member of the Washington High School class of 1952. He played football and basketball during his time in Massillon, and during his senior football season, led the team in rushing touchdowns (11). After graduation, he played football for the University of Pittsburgh, going to the 1956 Sugar Bowl. This game was particularly impactful as Grier became the first African American to play in the biggest collegiate bowl game. His participation came with major controversy with the University of Pittsburgh’s opponent, Georgia Tech, and the Georgia governor Marvin Griffin. Griffin wanted Georgia Tech to withdraw from the game because of racial segregation laws in the south. Pittsburgh responded with “No Grier, no game.” The school board ultimately decided that Georgia Tech would play. However, they also ruled that future teams would not play integrated teams the following season, but fortunately that decision would not go into effect. On January 2, 1956, the two teams met in New Orleans, Louisiana. Pittsburgh would lose 7-0 after a holding penalty on Grier resulted in a touchdown for Georgia Tech (the referee who called the penalty would go on to say that it was a bad call after watching game film).