OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss Rebels are set to retire Ben Williams’ No. 74 jersey number on Thanksgiving Night against Mississippi State this season, the school announced on Thursday.
Williams was the first African American to play in a varsity football game for the Rebels, and he will join Archie Manning (18), Chucky Mullins (38) and Eli Manning (10) as the only Ole Miss players to have a jersey number retired .
“It is our honor to recognize Gentle Ben and his immense impact by enshrining his No. 74 among the greats to ever wear the Red and Blue,” Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter said in a press release. “Few individuals in the history of our university have opened more doors for others than Ben. In a year that our campus is celebrating 60 years of integration, the athletics department is excited to forever distinguish Ben — the player and the person — for breaking down walls in our football program and helping make Ole Miss what it is today.”
Williams is a native of Yazoo City, Miss., and he was a four-year letterwinner for the Rebels (1972-75). He went on to have an NFL career and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1976, becoming the first African American football player from Ole Miss to be selected in the NFL Draft.
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