Beginning in the 2021 college football season, the Michigan Wolverines and Northwestern Wildcats will be competing for the George Jewett Trophy, a new rivalry trophy that honors the Big Ten’s first Black player.
Jewett competed for both programs during the 1890s.
Great family! I'm sure a lot of people in Southeast Michigan know the Jewett's. I believe they're also related to the Inventor Elijah McCoy (Canada/Ypsilanti).
UM, Northwestern establish George Jewett Trophy in honor of 1st Black player at both schools https://t.co/IkRZtgZDVK
— Detroit City Dwellings (@DetroitDwelling) February 28, 2021
To honor those who paved the way is a great sign of respect and The Jewett Trophy makes history by becoming the first one named after a Black player.
Jewett was born and raised in Ann Arbor (home of Michigan University). He played fullback and halfback at Michigan in 1890, and in 1892 he was the Wolverines leading scorer, rusher, kicker during the season.
He then went on to play two more seasons at Northwestern University, where he completed his medical degree while continuing his success on the gridiron.
Jewett also broke the color barrier at Michigan in 1890, he was followed in fellow Big Ten programs by the likes of Fred Patterson (Ohio State) and Preston Eagleson at (Indiana). Jewett narrowly missed being the African-American in college football by one year in 1889. William Henry Louis and William Tecumseh Sherman Jackson played at Amherst.
Just eight years prior to Jewett’s debut for the Michigan football team, Moses Fleetwood Walker became the first African-American to letter for the Wolverines, doing so on the baseball team. Jewett is the first African-American to letter at any of the schools that formed the Big Ten Conference.
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren stated the following:
“We are proud that the University of Michigan and Northwestern University will honor Dr. Jewett’s extraordinary humanity, courage, intelligence, success and legacy with the first rival game trophy featuring an African-American football player in FBS and Big Ten Conference History.”
Jewett passed away in 1908 at the young age of 38. But he did so having accomplished and fulfilled a lot more than more who live to see 60. He lived a full life where he became a doctor and even opened several businesses in the Ann Arbor area.