EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

August 15, 2008

Johnson's Hall of Fame career transcended football

HAVERHILL — Memories from 42 years ago are etched in Daryl Johnson's mind as if the events had just taken place.

"It was a different time in our country," said the former Boston Patriot, who will be inducted into Morgan State's Hall of Fame on Sept. 19.

Johnson, a former quarterback, led the 1966 team, which had not lost a game in three years, into the Tangerine Bowl (now the Citrus Bowl) against West Chester (Pa.) State.

Looking back in the record books, the words describe just an ordinary bowl game on an ordinary December day. But, with the United States in the midst of the civil rights movement, Morgan State, a historically black university located in Baltimore, on the same field as West Chester State, a white college, gave the game far more meaning.

And when Morgan State beat West Chester 14-6, it signified more than just another ordinary undefeated season for the Bears. Johnson said it represented a defining moment, a giant leap towards racial equality in the United States.

"We weren't just playing that game for our school," recalls Johnson, a longtime resident of Groveland and Haverhill. "That game was bigger than just a football game. It was for our grandparents, our parents; we were playing for something that was bigger than ourselves, and at the time, I'm not sure we knew it.

"Looking back on it now, at 62 years old, and seeing where our country was at that time and where we are, I am really only appreciating that game now. And, it wasn't even about us winning, it was about the two teams being on the field together, and what that meant.

"The funny thing is, I can honestly say that it was the cleanest of games. This was a group of white kids, playing football against a group of black kids, and it was at the same time in our country that there were riots going on over racial issues, and I mean people were getting killed. I expected slurs and remarks from both sides, maybe some cheap shots, but it never happened. It was just the game, and very respectful on both sides."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports

Local Sports Videos
Sports Videos
Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft NHL playoff preview: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings NHL playoff preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens NHL playoff preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Carolina Panthers NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Atlanta Falcons Too Hot or Too Cold: Brewers and Rangers NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Baltimore Ravens NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs - Arizona Cardinals NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs – Oakland Raiders NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs – Houston Texans NFL Draft 2014 Team Needs – Jacksonville Jaguars Olympic Great Michael Phelps Ending Retirement Draft Preview: Chris Davis Draft Preview: Jay Prosch Watson: 'I'm always going to cry' Is the use of pine tar considered cheating? Draft Preview: Jake Matthews Draft Preview: L'Damian Washington
Boston Sports
Merloni: Transfer Rule 'ruining the game' Gomes: Ceremony showed healing is ongoing Pedroia: Game-winning play 'kind of a crazy deal' Babcock: 'An exercise in skating up and down the rink' Rask: Chara's become better at screening Miller: Flu 'a scary situation' Florek: 'It's a feeling I've never felt before' Iginla hungry for first Stanley Cup Running Strong: How the Bruins National Anthem brought Boston together Patriots Talk TV: Should the Pats abandon the 2 TE system? Brad Stevens: Hopeful season was a 'learning experience' for young Celtics Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft NHL playoff preview: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings NHL playoff preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens NHL playoff preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday McAdam: MLB replay system already affecting Sox Running Strong: Marathon Sports Manager, Shane O'Hara reflects back on Marathon bombings Merloni: An imperfect game we're trying to make perfect Felger sounds of on the MLB replay system