From Fritz Pollard to Lamar Jackson, Black quarterbacks have made quite an impact across the NFL.
They’ve changed the tone and tenor of the position. Whether it’s Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick, the lineage of Black QBs is lengthy and cherished.
That tapestry will get even richer on Sunday. When Patrick Mahomes takes on Jalen Hurts in Super Bowl 57, it will be the first time Black quarterbacks will face off against one another in the big game.
It’s a mammoth achievement, an indication of just how far the game has come. At one time, it seemed unfathomable. Now, it’s second nature.
MORE: Watch Super Bowl 57 live with fuboTV (free trial)
Hurts and Mahomes are part of the next generation. But who paved the way for them? The Sporting News details the rise of the Black quarterback in the Super Bowl.
How many Black quarterbacks have played in a Super Bowl?
Just seven Black quarterbacks have started in a Super Bowl, beginning with Washington’s Doug Williams, who not only captured the Lombardi Trophy but also Super Bowl MVP after throwing for 320 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-10 rout of the Broncos in Super Bowl 22.
Since then, it has become increasingly common for Black QBs to make it to the NFL’s title game. After Williams, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb and Colin Kaepernick started but were unable to hoist the trophy. In 2014, Russell Wilson broke through, leading the Seahawks to glory. He could have had one more in 2015 if not for Malcolm Butler.
Cam Newton and Patrick Mahomes then led their teams to Super Bowl appearances, with Mahomes winning in 2020. Jalen Hurts will expand the list to eight this year.
2020, 2021, 2023
Who was the first Black QB to play in a Super Bowl?
Doug Williams was the standard-bearer for Black QBs in the Super Bowl. He broke the color barrier in 1988.
Williams didn’t come into the 1987 season as a starter, but he impressed in the final few games of the year and earned the start for Washington’s opening playoff game. He kept the good times rolling as the squad carved through the NFC to earn a berth against the Broncos.
Williams saved his best for last, tearing Denver’s defense apart with four touchdowns passes, all in the second quarter. He outplayed Hall of Famer John Elway to lead Washington to its second Super Bowl of the decade.
MORE: Meet Doug Williams, the first Black NFL quarterback to win a Super Bowl
Black quarterbacks to win the Super Bowl
Three Black quarterbacks have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy: Williams, Wilson and Mahomes. Williams and Mahomes also nabbed MVP honors in the big game.
A Black quarterback is guaranteed to lift the sterling silver hardware come the end of this year’s trophy presentation, as well.
MORE: The seven worst narratives for Super Bowl 57
Black quarterbacks in the NFL in 2023
Eighteen NFL teams fielded a Black quarterback in the 2022 season, and 20 Black quarterbacks started a game. Hurts and Mahomes are among the favorites for NFL MVP, Geno Smith earned Comeback Player of the Year honors, and Tyler Huntley earned a Pro Bowl nod.
Black quarterbacks to start a game in 2022