Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (left) and Jalen Hurts (right) on the field. Pictures provided by Wikimedia Commons.
Tori Miller | News Editor
Super Bowl LIV marked the first time in NFL history that both teams’ starting quarterbacks were Black– Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles led their teams. While the Chiefs ended up winning the game, both quarterbacks represented a much larger win for professional football– progress.
In the NFL, quarterbacks are often the highest paid and most recognizable players, inspiring fans who wear their jerseys and young players to choose the same position. Yet African American quarterbacks have always been underrepresented in a league that is more than half Black and about 70% people of color, according to the New York Times.
For 27-year-old Chiefs quarterback Mahomes– who just won his second Super Bowl ring after his performance in Glendale, Arizona, which would make him the first Black quarterback to win multiple titles– the moment of history was “special.”
“I’ve learned more and more about the history of the Black quarterback since I’ve been in this league,” he told CNN reporters.
The history of professional Black quarterbacks has been charted in firsts, according to the New York Times. Marlin Briscoe started a game in 1968, James “Shack” Harris won a playoff game in 1974, Doug Williams won a Super Bowl in 1988.
While these firsts can be considered positive milestones, they also signify historic exclusion from the game. Even Mahomes and Hurts have faced questions about whether they belong as quarterbacks.
Mahomes was told growing up that he’d be better off focusing on baseball while Hurts was asked during a news conference before he was drafted three years ago if he’d switch to a different position.
In speaking to the media last week, both acknowledged and showed their gratitude for the Black quarterbacks who fought to pave the way for their opportunity this past weekend.
“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 kids that are coming up now,” Mahomes said. “It’ll be a great game against two great teams and against another great quarterback. I’m excited to go out there and do what we can against a great team.”
“I think it’s history,” Hurts said. “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.”
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