Home » College football: Grambling State to name field at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium in honor of James ‘Shack’ Harris and Doug Williams on Homecoming

College football: Grambling State to name field at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium in honor of James ‘Shack’ Harris and Doug Williams on Homecoming

by Russell Hedges

Grambling State Athletic Communications

The Grambling State University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has announced the field inside of the legendary Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium will be named after GSU football legends James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams during the Tigers’ homecoming game versus Alabama A&M on Oct. 14. 

The football field will officially become James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams Field at Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium. 

“It is our pleasure to honor two of the greatest members of the Grambling State football family,” said Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Trayvean Scott. “These two men have long represented what it means to be a G-Man and have achieved so much while breaking down barriers that few thought were attainable during their playing days. We can’t wait to add another brick to castle of greatness they’ve built.”

“Honoring these two Grambling Legends will be the highlight of our 2023 Homecoming festivities,” said Grambling State University President Richard “Rick” Gallot. “James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams epitomize greatness at the highest level of football competition. They both deserve to be honored by Grambling State University in this way.”

About James “Shack” Harris 

Harris is one of the most successful football players to grace the campus of Grambling State. During his time playing under Robinson from 1965-68, he helped lead GSU to four Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships. 

As a three-year starter, Harris led the Tigers to a 24-5-1 record.

Following his collegiate career, Harris entered the NFL being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eighth round of the 1969 NFL Draft. He became the first African American player to start a season at quarterback in the history of professional football.

In 1974, he led the Los Angeles Rams to an NFC West Division title and their first playoff victory since 1951. Harris then became the first African American quarterback to start a conference championship game. He also earned a spot in that year’s Pro Bowl, being named Pro Bowl MVP. 

At the conclusion of his playing career, he served in multiple executive roles in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Detroit Lions. 

The Monroe, La. native is a member of the SWAC Hall of Fame, the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the Black College Hall of Fame, and the National Quarterback Club Hall of Fame. 

“This is an outstanding honor for me, my family, coaches and all my teammates. I would like to thank President Rick Gallot, AD Trayvean Scott and the Grambling family for this dedication,” said Harris. “Sharing it with Doug Williams makes it even more special. I am very fortunate to have played for the great Coach Eddie Robinson. I am forever grateful to Grambling for providing me an education and tremendous HBCU experience. I hope my career represented Grambling well and made you proud. Thanks again and God bless.”

About Doug Williams

Williams is one of the most storied G-Men in the history of the program, playing quarterback under Robinson. As a four-year starter, Williams led the Tigers to 36-7 record, winning three SWAC championships from 1974-1977. He was also named the Black College Football Player of the Year twice. 

His stellar play helped him become a Heisman candidate, finishing fourth in the voting following the 1977 campaign. 

Williams was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 17th pick of the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft, becoming the first African American quarterback to be drafted in the opening round. He led the Buccaneers to the playoffs three times in the first five seasons, including a trip to the 1979 NFC Championship Game. 

The Zachary, La. native reached the zenith of his career when he led Washington to a 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, becoming the first Black quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP.

In 1998, upon the retirement of Robinson as the head coach of GSU, Williams was named the new leader of Grambling State football. He won his first SWAC title as head coach in 2000, with a 10-2 overall record. The following year he led the Tigers to Black College Football National Title with a 10-1 record. He completed a SWAC championship three-peat in 2002, leading the G-Men to an 11-2 mark. 

Following the 2003 season, which saw GSU claim a SWAC Western Division crown, he returned to the NFL to serve as an executive with Tampa Bay. After serving as general manager of the Virginia Destroyers in the United Football League during the 2010 season, Williams returned as head coach of Grambling State, immediately winning his fourth SWAC title as head coach in 2011.

Since 2014, he’s served as an executive for the Washington Commanders. 

Williams is member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the Black College Football Hall of Fame, the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame, the SWAC Hall of Fame, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor, the Tampa Stadium Krewe of Honor, and the Washington Commanders Ring of Honor. 

In 2009, Harris and Williams collaborated to create the Black College Football Hall of Fame to preserve the history and honor the greatest football players, coaches and contributors from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

“This is so surreal for me. This is such a humbling honor to have James “Shack” Harris and my name plastered on a field in Eddie Robinson stadium,” said Williams. “This is something that will stand time for my kids and grandkids to see. I would like to thank President Rick Gallot and Athletic Director Trayvean Scott for having the vision for such a beautiful and wonderful honor. I also want to say this for all the guys I have had the pleasure of playing with and to let them how much a part that they played.”

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