NFL Network to feature documentary on Raye of Light subject Jimmy Raye

“The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye” features the groundbreaking Michigan State University quarterback as part of the NFL Network Black History Month programming.

When Jimmy Raye enrolled at Michigan State University in 1964, he did more than just enroll in a university hundreds of miles from his native Fayetteville, N.C.: he was part of a groundbreaking movement that changed college football forever. In his junior season in 1966, Raye was Michigan State’s first black starting quarterback and the first black quarterback from the South to win a national title. His crucial role as a groundbreaking college football integration pioneer, told in Raye of Light by award-winning author Tom Shanahan, hits the airwaves on the Emmy Award-winning series NFL 360, debuting Tuesday, February 7 at 8 p.m. EST on the NFL Network. 

“Jimmy Raye was an exceptional athlete, but he was also a trailblazer,” said Angela Ellis, VP of Entertainment & Initiatives at NFL Media. “He became the first Black starting quarterback from the South to win a national championship, forging a path for Black players and coaches after him.”

NFL 360 is NFL Network's news anthology show of record and airs throughout the season, providing NFL players the opportunity to shine a light on the people, places and moments that are important to them through in-depth documentary storytelling.

“The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye explores Jimmy’s story—not just because it's about sports—but because it’s about courage, determination, and leadership,” said NFL 360 Co-Creator Dallas Hitchcock. “This story is bigger than football.”

In Raye of Light, Shanahan tells the story of how Coach Duffy Daugherty integrated his Spartan teams in a time when leading college programs like the University of Alabama were still segregated, when it was unusual to see black athletes at skill positions like quarterback, and when choices for outstanding Southern black athletes were either traditionally black colleges or northern colleges opening their doors to nationwide recruits. Raye was a leader in this college football integration and extended his legacy through several coaching stints both in college and NFL football, acting as a mentor to other Black coaches across the football industry.

From Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy: “I couldn’t help but think of how many people had helped me along the way. One of those people I wanted to personally thank for opening doors was Jimmy Raye. This book tells how some of those doors got pushed open. I’m sure you will enjoy reading about the journey!”

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, The Integration of College Football, and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans is available directly from August Publications as well as

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