News & Events

For Immediate Release

February 8, 2018

Media Contact: Carl Francis| Communications Director | 202-756-9169



Cardinals safety is first to win annual honor presented by NFLPA recognizing the top pro player from a Historically Black College and University (HBCU)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arizona Cardinals defender Antoine Bethea has been selected as the inaugural winner of the Black College Football Pro Player of the Year presented by the NFL Players Association. The prestigious award will be given annually to the top professional football player who attended a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

Bethea earned the award on the heels of his 12
th NFL season, during which he recorded 57 tackles and a career-high five interceptions in his first year with the Cardinals. The Pro Bowl safety attended Howard University before being drafted in 2006 by Indianapolis and going on to win Super Bowl XLI as a member of the Colts.

“I am truly grateful to be named the first winner of this NFLPA Black College Football Pro Player of the Year award,” Bethea said. “So many great NFL players who have come from HBCUs helped pave the way for me to live out my dream on the football field. This honor is a testament to them.”

Bethea will be recognized as this year’s recipient at the Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) Induction Ceremony on Saturday, February 10 in Atlanta. The 2018 BCFHOF class features Harold Carmichael, Raymond Chester, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Leo “Lincoln Locomotive” Lewis, Greg Lloyd, Everson Walls and former coach Bill Hayes.  

In recognition of February’s Black History Month, the NFL Players Association partnered with the Black College Football Hall of Fame to create this annual award. Each honoree is selected by a nine-member committee comprised of sports media, NFL executives and former players. The winner should serve as a positive influence in his community, have ties to his alma mater, exhibit good character throughout his career and perform at a high level during the current NFL season.
“Our union is proud to support this initiative and Antoine Bethea is a deserving winner not only for his performance on the field, but for his leadership and character off-the-field,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said. “We know there is a long and storied history of great NFL players from HBCUs and the NFLPA is thrilled to bring even greater recognition to their legacy.”


About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020. Learn more at

About the Black College Football Hall of Fame:
 The Black College Football Hall of Fame was established in October of 2009 by African-American pioneers and quarterbacks James “Shack” Harris (1974 Pro Bowl MVP) and Doug Williams (Super Bowl XXII MVP) to preserve the history of and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). There have been 70 Inductees since inception, including Mel Blount, James Harris, Willie Lanier, Art Shell and Doug Williams, who serve as Trustees.

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