Some 35 years ago, Doug Williams made NFL history when he became the first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl.
Williams, a Grambling State football legend, turned in a brilliant performance, completing 18 of his 29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns to claim game MVP honors as the then-Washington Redskins thrashed the John Elway-led Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII.
Williams also shattered the belief that Black men were incapable of playing the quarterback position the pros.
Since Wiiliams’ watershed performance, other Black quarterbacks — Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes — have helped lead their teams to victories in the big game.
When Super Bowl kicks LVII kicks off next Sunday, the game will mark the first time that two Black quarterbacks — Mahomes, likely NFL MVP of the Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia Eagles rising star Jalen Hurts — will start.
Williams, in a recent interview with ESPN, talked about the historical significance of the latest Super Bowl matchup.
“Man, after Jalen won earlier, I was pulling for Patrick. I was sitting here on pins and needles to see if it would happen. “I’ve got such a smile on my face right now, but I’ve got water in my eyes, too. I’m talking, but I don’t think I can even explain what this means. We have come such a long way. It has been so hard, with so many barriers, but we did it. Two Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl! Just to see that those guys are the first to do it, and the guys they are, it couldn’t make me happier.
“Whenever you take big steps and accomplish things that haven’t been accomplished before, with everything we’ve been through, all the hurdles … man, yeah, it means a lot for all of us. It has been such a long, hard road, so, yeah, there’s a lot of emotion.”
The influence Williams has had on the game of football will unquestionably be seen when Hurts and Mahomes step on the field for their respective teams. What Williams accomplished on Jan. 31, 1988, showed resoundingly once again that HBCU players can not only compete but dominate at the highest levels and inspired scores of Black quarterbacks.
Williams says that even 30-plus years later, he constantly encounters people that remind him of his Super Bowl performance.
“I don’t think there is anywhere that I have gone, anytime that I get on on an airplane, I’m gonna run into somebody in the airport or on the airplane or somewhere gonna remind me of this day,” he said. “That’s why it is always fresh in your mind because somebody’s gonna remind you. They realize that history was made that day and they never will forget that.”
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