LARAMIE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -- This year marks the 150th Anniversary of College Football around the country. The University of Wyoming Football Program began in 1893. That was nearly twenty years after the first college game between Princeton and Rutgers.
The University of Wyoming football program has faced defeat and experienced victory throughout its history. It's also been central to events that have meaning beyond the game. In 1969, fourteen players were kicked off of the football team. They asked to wear black armbands during an upcoming game against BYU. At the time, the LDS church, which operates BYU, wouldn't let African American men become priests.
The players kicked off the team at the time became known as the Black 14. John Griffin was one of those players. "The notion that we said we're going to just demand to wear the armband, [isn't true]" Griffin said. "If he had said, 'Gentlemen, I don't think this is a good idea, let's table this and we'll talk about it later, we would have done that in a hot second."
After the players were removed from the team, the University of Wyoming would only win two more games. The 1969 team finished the season with a 6-4 record. The team wouldn't have a winning record again until the 1976 season.
Tony McGee was another member of the Black 14. He said his best game at UW was against Air Force that year. He said he had seven sacks in the game. When it comes to the sport of football, McGee said the sport will take its toll on people later in life. "You enjoy it, but at one point in your life, you will pay the bill for playing it. For me, it's what I did, it's what I would do, and I'd do it again." McGee ended up playing football in the NFL.
In 2019, many of the players were back in Laramie for the first time since the 1969 incident. They were apologized to by the University for the way they were treated and recognized with a plaque outside of War Memorial Stadium and honored at halftime during a game.
Though we'll never know how the season would have turned out had these players been allowed to continue playing, the members of the Black 14 agree, they would have gone all the way.