Class of 2014 Gridiron Legend: Joe Washington Sr.

A former player and legendary high school coach in Southeast Texas, Joe Washington Sr., spent a large portion of his coaching career at all-black high schools.

Born on June 10, 1929 in Rosenberg, Washington grew up in the town 20-plus miles from Houston. Washington did not play prep football because the black high school in Rosenberg at the time did not field a football team, but persevered first as a player and then later as a coach despite the Jim Crow Laws that made segregation law.

He enlisted in the army in 1946, where he played running back and defensive back for a racially-mixed armed forces team while stationed in Hawaii, and went on to enjoy a successful three-year career at all-black Prairie View A&M. At Prairie View, Washington met his wife Phyllis, and following graduation in 1951 would begin a coaching career that spanned 45 years.

Washington spent the first 15 years of his career at Hilliard High School in Bay City and the next 30 years at Abraham Lincoln High School in Port Arthur. Washington coached a half dozen players to the NFL, including his son Joe Jr., who went on to become a two-time All-American at Oklahoma, a 1976 first round pick of the San Diego Chargers and a Super Bowl XVII Champion with the Washington Redskins.

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