Football player Emlen Tunnell was one of the greatest men to ever play the game. He was the first Black man inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
Tunnell was from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and after graduating from high school in 1942, he attended the University of Toledo. He suffered a broken neck and thought his football career was over, so he joined the U.S. Coast Guard after being turned down from the Army and Navy.
As a football player, Tunnell was a powerhouse; he was destructive on the field, yet distracting with his innocent-looking features at only 187 pounds and 6’1″. An undrafted Iowa standout that paid his way to New York in 1948 and asked the Giants for a tryout, Tunnell became one of the first defense-only stars of the game. He was the first Black player in the Giants’ post-World War II era and went on to distinction as the NFL’s first Black assistant coach and pro football’s first Black Hall of Famer.
Tunnell was the first African-American to play for the New York Giants. Tunnell played in the National Football League for 14 years, as his first 11 years were with the New York Giants and the last three with the Green Bay Packers.
He later became a scout and assistant coach with the Giants. Unfortunately, he died from a heart attack during a practice session in 1975.