April 25, 2014

NFL Open Thread: Gene Mingo, First Black Kicker in the NFL

Eugene L. Mingo (born September 22, 1938 in Akron, OH) is a former professional football player who played several positions including halfback, placekicker and return specialist. He is widely recognized as the first African American placekicker in American football.

In 1960, he had the first punt return for a touchdown in the American Football League, for the Denver Broncos. That touchdown won the first-ever American Football League game, as the Broncos defeated the Boston Patriots. Mingo also scored the first points in Mile High Stadium, then called Bears Stadium, with an 18-yard field goal. In the 1961 season opener at War Memorial Stadium against the Buffalo Bills, Mingo threw two touchdown passes, from the halfback position, to help the Broncos win 22-10: a 50-yarder to Lionel Taylor in the first quarter, and a 52-yarder to Taylor in the third. Mingo kicked the PATs after each score. He led the American Football League in scoring as a rookie in 1960 with 123 points and in 1962 with 137 points. Mingo holds the Broncos’ franchise record for the longest touchdown run, an 82-yarder against the Raiders in 1962. He also played for the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins. He kicked for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969 and 1970.

From 2009:

Gene Mingo, the first black placekicker in the NFL or AFL, would rather describe how the 1960 Denver Broncos sometimes stayed in separate hotels because of segregation, or how he honed his football skills playing in the service at Navy after not attending college. He’ll complain that he hasn’t been recognized sufficiently by the Broncos or the AFL, but recounts that longtime Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt spotted him before a Broncos game one time and told his sons, “This man helped save the American Football League.”

He openly talks about a drug addiction in the 1980s after many surgeries, and how it led to him accidentally shooting and almost killing his wife (who he is still with, and has been for 38 years).

And how that led to his religious awakening, getting his GED high-school equivalency degree at age 50 and becoming a drug and alcohol counselor.

This Sunday, Mingo will get a bit of the recognition he has craved from the Broncos. He and Gino Cappelletti, the Patriots’ radio broadcaster and another participant in the first game in AFL history, will be honorary captains, wearing the same throwback jerseys as the players.

“I’ll wear that yellow jersey with a lot of pride,” said Mingo, whose 76-yard punt return for a touchdown was the difference in a historic 13-10 Broncos victory over the Patriots. 

Mingo played five seasons and many different positions for Denver, led the AFL in scoring twice and still is in the Broncos’ record book, including for longest run (82 yards) in team history.

“He’s a very, very significant part of Denver Broncos history,” said team spokesman Jim Saccomano, who asked Mingo if he would be an honorary captain Sunday.

On Mingo’s worst day, Sept. 10, 1986, such an honor was inconceivable. Mingo was battling a cocaine addiction.

He was paranoid that drug dealers were coming to get him, and he discharged a gun when the family dog jumped at him. The bullet hit his wife and is still lodged in her back 23 years later. She was in critical condition for a few days, but survived.

Mingo said while he was in jail, he had a vision of family members, including his mother and father, telling him everything would be OK. He saw another vision, which he said was a long-haired figure with a white robe.

“I believe I looked in the face of God,” Mingo said. “That’s what I live with today.”

Mingo became a Level III Certified Addiction Counselor, the highest level for that position, and worked at a treatment center in Parker before retiring in 1999. Retirement is just as busy. He leads interventions for addicts.

He said he has been called 200 times and can’t remember more than four who didn’t go to treatment. Mingo thinks his honesty connects with people.

“I’m tired of people destroying their lives with drugs and alcohol,” Mingo said. “I’ve learned so much in life. I try to share to get them to not make the same mistakes.”

When Mingo is at the grocery store, a sporting event or during even a recent trip to the doctor’s office, he’ll get recognized. Not for his playing days, but by people whom he affected. He said he’ll get a tap on the shoulder, and the person will tell him he helped save their life.

“It really makes you feel good,” Mingo said.

 

WAS @ MIN

SEA @ ATL

DET @ CHI

PHI @  GB

JAC @ TEN

STL @ IND

OAK @ NYG

BUF @  PIT

CIN @ BAL

CAR @   SF

HOU @ ARI

DEN @  SD

DAL @  NO

MIA @   TB

MsKitty

MIN

SEA

CHI

GB

TEN

IND

OAK

BUF

CIN

SF

ARI

DEN

NO

MIA

Ch555x

WAS

SEA

CHI

GB

TEN

IND

OAK

PIT

CIN

SF

ARI

DEN

NO

MIA

AdKomack

MIN

SEA

CHI

PHI

TEN

IND

OAK

BUF

CIN

CAR

ARI

DEN

NO

MIA

TyrenM

WAS

SEA

CHI

PHI

TEN

IND

NYG

PIT

CIN

SF

ARI

DEN

NO

MIA

KennyM

WAS

SEA

DET

GB

TEN

IND

NYG

BUF

CIN

SF

ARI

DEN

NO

MIA

Pbomb

WAS

SEA

DET

PHI

TEN

IND

NYG

PIT

BAL

SF

HOU

DEN

NO

TB

GreenLady

WAS

SEA

DET

GB

TEN

IND

NYG

PIT

CIN

SF

ARI

DEN

NO

MIA

VulcanGirl

WAS

SEA

DET

GB

TEN

IND

NYG

BUF

CIN

SF

ARI

DEN

NO

MIA

Tunisia

WAS

SEA

DET

GB

TEN

IND

NYG

BUF

CIN

CAR

ARI

DEN

NO

TB

Miranda

WAS

SEA

DET

GB

JAC

IND

OAK

PIT

BAL

SF

ARI

DEN

NO

TB

  • TyrenM

    WHO are these Rams?

    • Miranda

      The Colts must have been caught on tape talking bout all the Rams grandmamas or something because this ass whupping is ridiculous!

      • TyrenM

        Alright Miranda, you called it tonight. “Curb Stomping” indeed.

    • Miranda

      Did the Colts get caught on tape talking bout all the Rams grandmamas or something?

  • Miranda

    Green Bay REALLY misses Aaron Rodgers!

  • Kennymack1971

    *Walks in and looks at POU picks*
    SMH
    *Walks out*

  • GreenLadyHere

    - – -***SLOWLY OPENS DOOR*** -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIxwxx9tz9w

    - –***LOOKS at SCOREBOARD -QUIZZICALLY — -so as NOT 2 get HYSTERICAL*** http://awesomelyluvvie.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/OprahShade.gif

    - -****LEAVES Room – — -CALMLY**** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0GZhCnN87I /NOT!! :>)

  • doug r

    Dave Cutler was my 8th grade cross country gym teacher :)