On Tuesday, Grambling announced that the field inside the Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium will be named after former players Doug Williams and James “Shack” Harris, per a statement by the athletic department. The field will officially be renamed the “James ’Shack’ Harris and Doug Williams Field” during the team’s homecoming contest vs. Alabama A&M on October 14th.
Williams and Harris are both significant in the history of the program. Both played under legendary coach Eddie G. Robinson in his 56-year tenure and had immense success in the SWAC.
James “Shack” Harris
Harris played for the Tigers from 1965-1968, leading the team to four SWAC championships and a 24-5-1 overall record in his career. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 192 pick in the 1969 NFL Draft. He made history as the first African-American player ever to start a season at quarterback in professional football.
In 1974, the Harris-led Los Angeles Rams clinched the NFC West Division title and secured their first playoff victory since 1951. Harris made history as the first African-American quarterback to start a conference championship game. Additionally, he garnered recognition as the Pro Bowl MVP that year. Following his playing career, Harris held various executive positions in the NFL, serving with the Baltimore Ravens, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Detroit Lions.
Williams played for Grambling from 1974-1977. During his time under center, the team won three SWAC Championships and went 36-7. His stellar play under Robinson earned him significant Heisman trophy buzz, finishing fourth in 1977. He went on to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 17th pick in the 1978 NFL Draft. He eventually went on to join the Washington Redskins, in which he made history as the first black quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP in 1988.
Williams made history again 10 years later when he became coach Eddie G. Robinson's successor as coach of Grambling. In 2000, he achieved his first SWAC title as head coach, boasting a remarkable 10-2 overall record. The subsequent year, he guided the Tigers to clinch the Black College Football National Title, concluding the season with an impressive 10-1 record. Continuing his winning streak, he secured a three-peat of SWAC championships in 2002, leading the G-Men to an 11-2 record.
After Grambling's 2003 SWAC Championship winning season, Williams returned to the NFL and took on an executive role with Tampa Bay. Following his tenure as the general manager of the Virginia Destroyers in the United Football League in 2010, Williams resumed his position as the head coach of Grambling State. In his return, he led the team to its fourth SWAC title in 2011.
Since 2014, he has served as an executive for the Washington Commanders. Williams has been honored as a member of various prestigious halls of fame, including 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 establish the Black College Football Hall of Fame, which aims to preserve the history and pay tribute to the greatest football players, coaches, and contributors in HBCU football history.