A weekend of celebration honoring Crimson Tide legends Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell will culminate during the 2022 Golden Flake A-Day Game that will be played on Saturday, April 16, inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Jackson and Mitchell’s leadership was instrumental in changing the course of the Alabama football program forever, breaking down barriers, opening doors and providing opportunities for generations to come.
In 1970, Jackson made history by becoming the first African American scholarship student-athlete on the Crimson Tide football team, and a year later, Mitchell cemented himself in the record books as the first African American to play in a varsity football game for Alabama.
Jackson, a native of Ozark, Alabama, went on to earn All-SEC honors and was captain of the 1973 national championship team. He was then drafted ninth overall by San Francisco in the 1974 NFL Draft, playing nine years professionally. Jackson closed out his career as part of Washington’s Super Bowl XVII championship team and was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Mitchell transferred to Alabama after an All-American career at Eastern Arizona Junior College. That success continued in the crimson and white for the Mobile, Alabama native with Mitchell becoming All-American, All-SEC and team captain. Mitchell then added another first to his name as the first African American to coach at Alabama, joining Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s staff in 1973. Later in his coaching career, he won Super Bowls XL and XLIII as part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, and in 2009, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Alabama leads the nation in spring game attendance over the last 15 years (14 A-Day Games after 2020 was canceled due to COVID) with a total of 1,068,239 fans for an average of 76,303 fans per game during that period (maximum capacity of 50,000 in 2021). The largest A-Day crowd in school history came in 2011 (92,310). In head coach Nick Saban’s first year of 2007, the stadium was at full capacity prior to expansion (92,138).
The annual A-Day Game is the 15th and final practice of the spring and takes place at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Admission will once again be free to the public. More information on A-Day, including game time, television network, additional activities, traffic and parking will be posted on rolltide.com when it becomes available.
**This information was acquired from a recent press release from Alabama Athletics.**
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77