Nevada standout Marion Motley honored at Pro Football Hall of Fame

Marion Motley, who starred for the Nevada football team and broke barriers in the NFL, was memorialized last week at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Several hundred people were at Stadium Park in Canton on Wednesday, Aug. 3, to see the new Marion Motley memorial, which depicts Motley, one of the first Black professional football players of the modern era, amid protest placards.

Four of Motley’s grandchildren were at the event and they pulled back the cover on the bronze sculpture.

The statue is in front of a brick wall with the names of donors on one side and “1946” on the other.

Marion Motley's statue is shown after being unveiled in Canton on Aug.  3, 2022.

Statue in Motley’s hometown

Motley grew up in Canton. He played fullback and linebacker at Nevada from 1940 to 1942 and was inducted in Nevada’s first Hall of Fame class in 1973. He joined the Navy during World War II, then played for the Cleveland Browns for eight seasons starting in 1946.

At Nevada, he also returned several kickoffs for touchdowns, including a 105-yarder in 1941 that is still tied for the school record.

While Motley was at Nevada, a Reno reporter wrote that, “In Marion Motley, the ball club has one of the best backs in the entire nation.”

People take photos of Marion Motley after his statue was unveiled in Canton on Aug.  3, 2022.

In 1946, Motley, then 26 years old and married with four children, was working in a mill in Canton when he was given a chance to try out for the Browns.

Motley made the Cleveland squad, and in 1946, he, Brown’s teammate Bill Willis and two players signed by the Los Angeles Rams broke the color line in modern professional football.

Breaking barriers:The time racism kept the Wolf Pack from playing an SEC team

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