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Sunday September 24, 2017
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The Belford Lawson Mystery



"Dad's recollections of his on-field exploits seemed so concretely detailed and so vivid, and his body language so animated when he talked about his game appearances, that I had no reason to disbelieve him on the rare occasions when he reminisced," Belford III says when asked about the inconsistencies. "All I can do is speculate. Maybe he made up a few stories in order to hide from me the fact that he never played. Maybe he did play a bit, but there was an unwritten rule among sports journalists not to mention a black player."

Finally, the younger Lawson wonders why his father never took him to a game at Michigan Stadium.

"It was such a mystery to me. Here's a guy who played varsity football for the University of Michigan on the national championship team and didn't want to take his son, also a star football player, to Michigan to see a game? That heightened my curiosity. I could never understand that."

Raising their son in Washington, D.C., in the 1950s and 1960s, his mother and father had sent him mostly to private prep schools.

"They didn't want me in a segregated environment," he says. "They wanted me to go to Groton. They wanted me to go to Harvard. They didn't want me to have to go through anything of what they did.

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