When Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts face off in next week’s Super Bowl it will be the first time that two Black quarterbacks have graced the NFL’s title game and the significance is resonating for both players.
For years Black quarterbacks faced questions from the game’s establishment about their ability to lead teams and doubts about their suitability for the most important position in the game.
Kansas City Chiefs star Mahomes, who is returning for his third Super Bowl appearance in four seasons, has no doubts about the significance of both signal-callers being Black.
“To be on the world stage and have two Black quarterbacks starting in the Super Bowl, I think it’s special,” Mahomes said in a team press conference on Thursday as his team prepared for the February 12 clash with Hurts’ Philadelphia Eagles.
“I’ve learned more and more about the history of the Black quarterback since I’ve been in this league and the guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this. And now, I’m just glad that we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now,” he said.
Mahomes stressed the impact that earlier Black quarterbacks, such as Doug Williams, the first to start and win a Super Bowl, with Washington, in the 1987 season, had made on him and others.
“I think you’ve seen over time, whenever a guy like Doug Williams, or Michael Vick, or Donovan McNabb go out and play great football, it gives other guys like me and Jalen chances to have this platform and to have this spot on an NFL team,” he said.
“So, if we can continue to show that we can consistently be great, I think it’ll just continue to open doors for other kids growing up to follow their dreams and to be a quarterback of an NFL team. And it’s good that we have guys like Jalen on the other side because he’s a great person and obviously a great quarterback,” he added.
Mahomes is one of only three Black quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl along with Williams and Russell Wilson, who triumphed with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013.
Hurts, who is the second Black quarterback to feature in the biggest game for the Eagles after McNabb in 2004, said the significance was evident.
“I think it’s history. I think it’s something that’s worthy of being noted and it is history. It’s come a long way. I think it’s only been seven African American quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl, so to be the first for something is pretty cool. I know it will be a good one,”” he said.
While many still question why there aren’t more black coaches coming through the ranks to take charge of teams, the increasing numbers of successful Black quarterbacks has exposed the ill-founded nature of the past doubts about their capability.
“We have come such a long way. It has been so hard, so many barriers, but we did it. Two Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl,” Williams said in an interview with ESPN’s website Andscape.
“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,” Williams said.
“It has been such a long, hard road, so, yeah, there’s a lot of emotion.
“When you have two Black quarterbacks get to this point, the guys leading the best two teams, you can’t deny what we can do. You can’t deny that we’ve gotten to this point, where we knew we could be, despite all the barriers. And for it to be those two guys … man.”
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