On February 12, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts achieved a historic feat as the first Black quarterbacks to face each other as starters in Super Bowl LVII.
Currently, there are around 11 Black quarterbacks in the NFL league. While the reason for this relatively small number has been contentiously debated, Louis Moore, a history professor at Grand Valley State University, attributes it to society’s long-standing discomfort with Black leadership.
In 1978, the first Black quarterback, Doug Williams, became a target of a constant barrage of hate mail for his role on the Washington Redskins. Many similar stories progressed in the 1970s until this stigma had been broken down from Williams’ 1988 victory in a game against the Washington Redskins — now known as the Washington Commanders.
Because of that triumph, elderly members of the Black community personally thanked him for his contribution toward achieving the defeat of a stereotypical barrier. Williams’ undeniable accomplishments, which were televised to every household in America, have held great significance in the eyes of football watchers.
Williams is now the senior advisor of the Washington Commanders. In an interview with TIME magazine, he stated that the Black quarterbacks in the recent Super Bowl brought to mind the past injustices experienced by players in this position and instilled optimism in him for a more just future.
Mahomes’ and Hurts’ achievements offer a moment to contemplate and recognize history, especially during a time when efforts are being made to erase it.
A month before the Super Bowl took place, both starters conveyed to media their appreciation and perspective on their remarkable achievement, and shared their thoughts on how it will impact the future of football.
“To be on the world stage and have two Black quarterbacks start in the Super Bowl — I think it’s special…. The guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this and now I’m just glad we can set the stage for the kids that are coming up now,” said Mahomes.
Hurts also demonstrated the significance of this moment in the same interview by saying, “I think it’s history. I think there’s only been seven African-American quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl. To be the first for something is pretty cool.”
Super Bowl LVII not only features two of the NFL’s top athletes but also holds great significance as it coincides with Black History Month, providing a groundbreaking opportunity for the representation of Black quarterbacks on a global stage. However, the effort to showcase Black quarterbacks is one that should be pursued year-round.
This occasion provides another stepping stone into the careers of Mahomes, Hurts, and other upcoming players in national league football.