USF's last football team refused to compromise with segregation
The graduating class at commencement ceremonies at the University of San Francisco stood and gave an ovation Friday -- long, sustained applause and cheers -- to 11 old men who played football a lifetime ago.
They were members of USF's 1951 team -- distinguished in their time because they never lost a game they played, and honored by the class of 2006 for a game they never played.
The team was the school's best ever, but it never went to a bowl game, because the only bowl games that wanted the Dons were in the Deep South. It was an era of segregation, and the promoters let it be known they would invite USF only if the Dons left their two black players behind.
The team refused. "We said, 'Bull -- . If they don't go, we don't go,' " backup quarterback Bill Henneberry remembered. "There was never any question."
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