By Florence Mafomemeh
It doesn’t matter who wins. The fact is that Super Bowl LVII will make history with two black starting quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs will play in the first ever Super Bowl in 57 years with both teams starting a Black quarterback.
Black quarterbacks have come to be a common sight in NFL games, thriving in a position once reserved exclusively for white men. Yet the sport’s biggest stage had never featured two – until now.
The two players, Mahomes and Hurts, have had outstanding seasons. Both are finalists for the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award, and Mahomes is expected to win.
Speaking to the media this week, both QBs acknowledged the long history of Black quarterbacks who fought to pave the way for their opportunity this weekend. “I think about all the rich history in this game, and to be part of such an historic event, historic moment, it’s special,” Hurts said on Monday.
“It’s historic,” said Mahomes. “So many people laid the foundation before us, and to be playing with a guy like Jalen, who I know is doing it the right way, it’s going to be a special moment that I hope lives on forever.”
Yet even as Black players joined teams in growing numbers, team owners and managers continued to discriminate against them – especially in so-called “thinking positions” like center, middle linebacker and quarterback.
“They felt Black men were inherently inferior, that Black quarterbacks — in their minds – could not lead white players in the NFL, and they just weren’t smart enough,” said Jason Reid, a sportswriter for ESPN.
Speaking on NPR’s All Things Considered about this historic Super Bowl matchup of two Black quarterbacks, former QB Doug Williams said it was A long history of discrimination.
The late Marlin Briscoe became the first Black player in the Super Bowl era to start a game at quarterback with the Denver Broncos only after the team’s white quarterback was injured and the white backup played poorly, forcing the Broncos to give Briscoe a chance.
Then there’s Warren Moon, who became the first Black quarterback to enter the NFL Hall of Fame after being ignored by NFL teams in the draft and went on to excel in the Canadian Football League, where he won five straight championships before switching to the NFL where he was named to the Pro Bowl nine times.