Typical Hugh Douglas.
The former Eagles defensive end was hosting his morning radio show in Atlanta on Wednesday when he got the call that he is a member of the Black College Hall of Fame's Class of 2019. After taking a moment to pause and reflect on the great players who came before him – Harold Carmichael, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, and Michael Strahan among many others, Douglas announced the honor on the air.
It didn't take long for the Black College Hall of Fame to call back and remind him that the news wasn't made public yet.
Well, now it's official, and the former Central State star who had 32 sacks in three seasons, was a two-time NAIA Division I All-American, and a National Champion said he's anxious and overwhelmed at the thought of giving a speech when the induction ceremony is held in February in Atlanta shortly after Super Bowl LIII.
Hugh? Anxious about talking?
An entertaining and loquacious locker room personality during his six years with the Eagles, Douglas was named to three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. He is fourth in franchise history in sacks with 54.5 and tied Eagles Hall of Fame defensive end Clyde Simmons' record for most sacks in a game with 4.5 on October 18, 1998. After playing in Jacksonville for one season in 2003, Douglas returned to the Eagles the following season and helped the team reach Super Bowl XXXIX.
A native of Mansfield, Ohio, Douglas was told to check out Central State and learned about the history and importance of HBCUs.
"I think it's important that people realize what the black colleges mean and what they stood for back in the day," Douglas said by phone on Thursday morning after wrapping up his show. "At one time, they didn't let black players play at Alabama. I think it wasn't until the '70s that there was a black player that played at Kentucky. It was not that long ago. People need to realize that. At one point, we weren't allowed to play college sports with everybody else. We had to have our own universities."
A first-round pick of the New York Jets in 1995, Douglas was chosen by assistant general manager James "Shack" Harris and viewed Harris as a mentor early in his NFL career. At the time, however, Douglas didn't know how much of a pioneer Harris was. Also a member of the Black College Hall of Fame, Harris was the first black quarterback to start a season opener.
Douglas wants people to know that black colleges are still turning out quality players. Bears running back Tarik Cohen played at North Carolina A&T. Douglas' son, Hugh, recently visited Florida A&M.
"It's about learning about self. A lot of times when you go to some universities, it's kind of tough (for a black person)," Douglas said. "I know a lot of universities are doing a better job of it now, having minority studies and everything. But I think at an HBCU, it's all about self, learning about yourself, and it better prepares you for life in the real world. I really do believe that."
While he's enjoying life in Atlanta, Douglas misses Philadelphia and says he could return one day in the future.
"I miss Philly more than you know," he said. "I love it here in Atlanta, no question about that. But I think about the fans, the atmosphere, the cheesesteaks. Everything that's Philly, Chickie's and Pete's. There is a Rita's Water Ice, so that helps a little bit."