Burt Toler was the rock-solid center and linebacker on the now justly celebrated University of San Francisco team of 1951, which finished undefeated, untied, and uninvited to a post-season bowl game, mainly because two of its great stars, Toler and Ollie Matson, were African-American. On a roster boasting three future NFL Hall of Famers—Matson, Gino Marchetti and Bob St. Clair—Toler was considered by his teammates the most accomplished of all, roaming from sideline to sideline making tackles. Unfortunately, Burl never got a chance to prove he could make it in the NFL because of a knee injury suffered in the 1952 College All-Star game against the then-Los Angeles Rams, which ended his playing career. In a strange twist of fate, Toler became a top NFL official and lasted longer in the league than any of his former teammates—25 years. Toler also taught for 17 years at Benjamin Franklin Middle School and served as the secondary school principal in the district. In 2006, Toler was acknowledged as a great educator and community leader, and the school was renamed “Burl A. Toler Middle School” in his honor.
Inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Plaque location: University of San Francisco