Greg Page: Pioneering Kentucky Football Player Died in 1966 From Practice Injuries

0 Posted by - July 18, 2018 - Black History, BLACK MEN, History, LATEST POSTS, SPORTS

In 1966, Page was one of the first two African Americans who signed to play football at the University of Kentucky. He was injured during practice and died six weeks later from a paralyzing neck injury; he did not play in any games.

Page along with another African American player, Northington, arrived at summer football camp in 1966. None of the white players appeared hostile, at least they didn’t show it, but many of white teammates had come from segregated high schools and were not used to playing alongside African Americans.

Page stood at 6ft’2in and had down to earth personality and could fit in with just about any reasonable person. The first year, Page and Northington were not allowed to play varsity as freshmen, so they would just adjust, practice and play exhibition games.

In their sophomore year, they were eligible for varsity and Page listed as second-string and behind Van Note, was expected to play in the season opener against Indiana and officially break the SEC’s color barrier. But everything changed on an August afternoon. It was a common drill run, one that ran every day. The defense lined up against a skeleton offense, a coach throwing the ball right or left. The defenders were supposed to pursue the ballcarrier, give him a bump, then stop. However, this particular time, when the pileup cleared up, Page lay on the ground not moving.

As he lay paralyzed in the hospital, a stunned Kentucky lost to Indiana, 12-10. Page died on September 29, one day before Northington broke the SEC’s color barrier in the September 30, 1967 game against the University of Mississippi. Shortly after the death of Page, Northington packed his bags and left the school. After leaving Kentucky, Northington enrolled at tiny Western Kentucky. He played football there, but only a few people noticed.

 

sources:

https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/571

Greg Page’s Lasting Legacy in UK Football

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