Article by Kenya Payne Rivers
There were some players that paved the way for others. There was a time when there was a racial barrier in the sports industry. It took time for African Americans to be qualified to play in the National Football League. It took even more time for African Americans to be recognized for their hard work and efforts of being a player on the field.
It was Ray Donaldson’s childhood dream to play football ever since he was six years old. He was so determined to be in the league one day, he wrote a letter to Johnny Unitas, who was a Baltimore Colts Quarterback from 1956 to 1973. Ray doesn’t remember exactly what the letter said but he made it clear that he was a fan. In his rookie year, he got to meet John Unitas.
Ray Donaldson was born in Rome, Georgia. He went to the University of Georgia from 1976 to 1979. Ray was the first black offensive lineman at the university. The Colts owner, Mike McCormack, was impressed with the 6 feet 3 inches, 253-pound player. He thought he would be a great fit as a Center. The job of the Center is to make the line calls and the glue to the offensive line. He was the 32nd NFL draft pick in 1980. Ray became the first African American full-time Center in the NFL in 1981. He started his career with the Baltimore Colts and stayed with them when the team transferred to Indianapolis in 1984. After leaving the Colts, his career continued with the Seattle Seahawks and ended with the Dallas Cowboys in 1996.
Ray retired from the NFL with 17 years as a 6-time Pro Bowl Player and with a Super Bowl XXX win with the Dallas Cowboys. Since retiring from the NFL he has started an apparel line that showcases the number he donned while playing football. To check it out, go to https://millions.co/ray-donaldson-football .
I would like to give a shout-out to Ron “Clownn” Anderson and Earl Coleman for connecting me with Ray. Thank you, guys!