Jewett was the first Black player to play football in the Big Ten, and he spent time at both Michigan and Northwestern. The George Jewett Trophy is the first rivalry game trophy named for an African American player in FBS history, according to U of M.
Jewett played fullback, halfback and kicker for the Wolverines during the 1890 and 1892 seasons. He enrolled at Michigan and studied medicine after being named valedictorian at Ann Arbor High, which is now Ann Arbor Pioneer.
He left Michigan for Northwestern in 1893 to finish his medical degree. While in Evanston, he played football for the Wildcats for two seasons.
After graduation, Jewett became a doctor in Chicago before returning to Ann Arbor in 1899. He coached briefly at Michigan Agricultural College and Olivet, and later started a dry cleaning and pressing business on State Street.
He died in 1908 at the age of 38, leaving behind a wife and two sons.
“This is a historic moment in major college football history,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said. “We are proud to partner with our peer institution, Northwestern, to recognize and honor an African American pioneer in George Jewett. George achieved at a high level as an athlete and doctor. His hard work and effort led to success not only for himself, but for those who would follow a similar path after him. His excellence at two Big Ten institutions as a student, athlete and citizen is something we want our current student-athletes to aspire to during their collegiate experience. The George Jewett Trophy will become a proud celebration of the importance to diversity on our teams, campuses, and in our society.”
“This is a deserved and exciting acknowledgement of Dr. George Jewett, a landmark figure for both Northwestern and Michigan,” said Janna Blais, Northwestern’s interim vice president for athletics and recreation.
“Dr. George Jewett’s academic, athletic, community and cultural accolades transcend time,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said. “We are proud that the University of Michigan and Northwestern University will honor Dr. Jewett’s extraordinary humanity, courage, intelligence, success and legacy with the first rivalry game trophy featuring an African American football player in FBS and Big Ten history.”
Michigan also plays Minnesota for the Little Brown Jug and Michigan State for the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Northwestern plays for The Land of Lincoln Trophy against Illinois.
The George Jewett Trophy will become the 16th rivalry game trophy in the Big Ten.
The first George Jewett Trophy game will be Oct. 23, 2021, in Ann Arbor.