The Grambling State University football team plays in the unheralded Southwestern Athletic Conference, in the division beneath the big boys. They had an 11-game losing streak, stretching back into the 2012 season.
In short, this was not a team that warranted national attention.
But the Grambling Tigers finally got some last month. No, they didn’t notch their first win that day – or even another loss. They didn’t play – and it wasn’t due to bad weather or a bye week. The players simply refused to take the field.
Grambling is a historically black college with a rich tradition. Their legendary coach, Eddie Robinson, won 408 games, which set the record Joe Paterno would break, then relinquish, due to NCAA sanctions.
One of Robinson’s biggest stars was Doug Williams, the first African-American quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl title.
But, as a coach, Williams was more beloved than successful. His Grambling teams couldn’t get it done, while the school itself suffered draconian budget cuts. The players had to travel by bus and work out in a weight room so decrepit, several suffered staph infections.
This fall, it all came to a head.