Deshaun Watson of the Texans was among the ten black starting quarterbacks, who also included Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), Cam Newton (Patriots), Lamar Jackson (Ravens), Kyler Murray (Cardinals), Dak Prescott (Cowboys), Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Teddy Bridgewater (Panthers), Dwayne Haskins (Washington), and Tyrod Taylor (Texans).
Watson is the first black quarterback to win the AP MVP award. He became the third player of color to win the award in 2017 after Michael Vick and Quincy Carter. The other two winners were Alvin Kamara and DeAndre Baker.
There have been over 100 black starters in the NFL since its inception in 1922. The Pittsburgh Pirates had eight black starters in their major league baseball team during that time period. The Brooklyn Dodgers had four black starters in the 1940 season. These are the only other major league baseball teams to have more than one black starter in a season.
Several prominent black players got their start in the NFL during its early years. Halfback Jim Brown of Ohio State and the Cleveland Browns was the most successful of these players. He led the league in scoring three times and won the Heisman Trophy while playing for OSU. Another halfback, Ernie Davis of Maryland, also earned multiple All-Pro selections while with the Baltimore Colts. Wide receivers Charlie Jones of UCLA and Nat Moore of Tennessee State both played several seasons as members of the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions, respectively.
Only two black starting quarterbacks have won Super Bowls to date: Doug Williams with the Redskins and Patrick Mahomes (mixed race, I believe) with the Chiefs last year. Another man of color, Jim Plunkett, won a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback with the Raiders. He was born in United States territory in Hawaii but grew up in California where he played college football.
There have been other black quarterbacks who have played in Super Bowls during the past few decades including Ken O'Brien, Kenny Albert, Jeff Hostetler, Aaron Brooks, and Alex Smith. All but O'Brien were backups or fill-ins for more prominent teams. The only black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl as a main starter is Mr. Williams.
He joined the Redskins in 1982 after three seasons with the New York Jets. That's when they moved to Washington, D.C.! He started eight games for them that season and led them to the playoffs. In 1984, he threw for 3,426 yards while completing 62 percent of his passes. Thirteen years later, in 1997, Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to win the MVP award when he was nominated for this prize. He finished the season with 4,334 passing yards, 28 touchdowns vs. only nine interceptions. The Redskins lost 23-20 in the final minute of regulation time at home to Chicago.
And both of them were drafted in the sixth round or later.
There have been many more black quarterbacks who have played in the NFL, mostly as backups or practice players. They include Kerry Collins, Byron Leftwich, Brad Johnson, Zac Taylor, Ryan Griffin, Caleb Rowe, Andre Woodson, Josh Freeman, Brandon Weeden, Connor Shaw, Jeff George, Vince Young, Chad Pennington, Matt Moore, and Logan Thomas.
So yes, there has been two black quarterbacks in a Super Bowl -- but it's not enough to make any real statement about racial issues in the NFL.
Ten of the league's 32 starting quarterbacks were black at the start of the 2020 NFL season, the most in a single week in NFL history. First and foremost by team (Super Bowl era)
|Date||December 3, 2017|
|Team||New York Giants|
During the 2013 season, 67 percent of NFL players were African American (black people make approximately 13 percent of the US population), but just 17 percent of quarterbacks were; the other 82 percent were white. In fact, out of the 32 starting quarterbacks this year, only seven were black or Latino.
The number of black quarterbacks in the NFL has stayed relatively constant over the past decade - there were only three black starters in 2003 - but that's about it. There have been no more than seven black quarterbacks at any time since 2003 and now there are only six: Detroit's Matthew Stafford is white; the others are Atlanta's Matt Ryan, New York's Ryan Tannehill, Chicago's Jay Cutler, San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and New England's Tom Brady. Note: On September 11, 2013, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was diagnosed with a partial tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
There were also only three black starters in 1993, but by 2003 the number had increased to 14. Since then it has remained above 15 every year except for 2008 when there were only ten black starters.
Aaron Brooks and Jeff Blake discuss the Saints' quarterback position's tumultuous past. In honor of Black History Month, John DeShazier looks back at the Saints' first two black quarterbacks, Jeff Blake and Aaron Brooks.
The first black quarterback for the Saints was actually Jeff Blake. He played in three games in 1992 and finished with 338 yards passing without a touchdown or an interception. He also rushed for four touchdowns. After Blake, no other black quarterback has played more than three games in a season. The most recent one is Aaron Brooks, who played in three games in 2014 before suffering a knee injury that ended his season. He finished that season with 1,719 yards passing and 10 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions.
Blake wasn't the only black quarterback for the Saints during their early years. They also had Ernie Conwell and Doug Williams play for them. Conwell played in six games from 1969 to 1970 and finished with 1,054 yards passing without a touchdown or an interception. He also ran for five scores. Williams started seven games in 1995 and 1996 and finished with 2,073 yards passing and 16 touchdowns vs. nine interceptions.
After those two seasons, Williams left football to focus on his career as a baseball player.