ProFootball Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Duke Slater

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North / NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

Frederick Wayman “Duke” Slater (December 9, 1898 – August 14, 1966) was an American football player who will be enshrined posthumously as part of the 2020 Centennial Class in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

In high school in the early 1900’s, he had to choose between buying shoes or a helmet in order to play football. He chose shoes so he played every game of his career at Clinton High School without a helmet. He played the tackle and fullback positions.

In 1918, at the age of 20, he was allowed to enter the University of Iowa and play for four years despite his age due to rules being relaxed during World War I. He earned four letters along with All Big Ten and All-American honors.

He made history when he joined the NFL’s Rock Island Independents in 1922, becoming the first black lineman in NFL history. And that’s just the beginning of this story.

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