NFL’s first black kicker has turned life around

1961 topps with caption

Gene Mingo made a significant contribution to the American Football League, which included playing in the first regular-season AFL game, and registering the first punt return for a touchdown in league history.  Additionally, Gene Mingo was likely the first African-American placekicker in professional football, and spent time in the Broncos backfield.

Gene Mingo encountered his share of trouble in his post-football life. But as the following article from 2009 (the AFL’s 50th anniversary season) shows, he dug in and turned things around.

Todd Tobias (790 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

4 Responses to NFL’s first black kicker has turned life around

  1. Tom says:

    Mango is one of the more uniquely talented players of all time, from early life in Akron OH he was surrounded by athletic talent and for awhile attended Central High School with Gus “Honeycomb” Johnson, but probably left Central before Nate Thurmond who is a bit younger arrived on Campus. I would guess that Mingo was also a fair basketball player, imagine those three together on the same high school team, pretty remarkable I would think.

  2. Tom says:

    Typing on an iPad auto typed and changed Mingo to Mango, my apologies for not seeing the typo before posting.

  3. Dave B says:

    If my memory is correct, Bill Shockley, an African-American, played for the New York Titans in 1960 and was their placekicker. I will check this out further.

  4. Dave B says:

    Update – I just read Bill Shockley’s obituary in the New York Times – according to that source, his field goal provided the Titans with the first points in their first game.

Leave a Reply