PHILADELPHIA — Black quarterbacks have come a long way in the NFL since Fritz Pollard became the first player in the league in 1923 and Doug Williams was the first to start and win a Super Bowl after the 1987 season.
Now, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts will be the first black QBs to face off in a Super Bowl.
It’s fitting that a season that began with 11 Black QBs starting in Week 1 ends in a historic matchup.
Mahomes could become the first two-time winner if he leads the Kansas City Chiefs to a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 12. Hurts is aiming to become the fourth black QB to win the Super Bowl, joining Williams, Mahomes and Russell Wilson.
Steve McNair, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Wilson also started in the Super Bowl and lost.
Michael Vick was the first black QB selected at No. 1 overall in the draft in 2001. McNair became the first black QB to win MVP in 2003. Mahomes and Lamar Jackson won back-to-back years.
Everyone has had to overcome stereotypes to get to this point.
Jackson said a scout for the Los Angeles Chargers asked him to run on the NFL combine in 2018. The Baltimore Ravens ended up selecting him with the 32nd pick in the first round and he was MVP in his sophomore season.
Donovan McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowl QB who started five NFC championship games for the Eagles, was told by some college scouts that he should play running back or wide receiver. He didn’t change positions, went to Syracuse to play quarterback and was drafted second overall in 1999 by Philadelphia.
Hurts began his NFL career in 2020 as an all-purpose QB after the Eagles drafted him to the second round. Playing behind Carson Wentz, Hurts had 12 rushing attempts, one catch and threw just three passes in his first nine games before taking over as Philadelphia’s QB.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts reacts after the NFC Championship game between the Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
He clearly hasn’t forgotten that the decision to draft him in the second round of the 2020 draft has been widely criticized by journalists and fans.
“My first year here, (people) probably didn’t even want to draft me here,” Hurts said Sunday. “It was probably one of those things. But it always handles itself.”
Neither Hurts nor Mahomes celebrated conference championship victories too much. The main focus remains ahead. Each of them wants another win.
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Hurts puffed out a victory cigar after the Eagles defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 but showed little emotion, as usual, in his postgame press conference.
“I really don’t know how to feel to be honest. You work really hard to put yourself in this position and I will be forever grateful,” Hurts said. “Only God knows the things that each individual on this team was able to overcome to bring us together as a team and do something special as a group. That’s what means the most. I always want to go out there and give it my all no matter what which is happening because i don’t want to disappoint the guy next to me.that makes us all more difficult.
Hurts, a finalist with Mahomes for AP NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, missed two games late in the season with a shoulder injury. The Eagles didn’t have to rely on him in two lopsided playoff victories. He has just 275 passing yards and two TDs along with 73 rushing yards and two scores.
“I know I’ve been through a lot personally, but I don’t want to stray from the direction of how good this team has been at playing together, sticking together and challenging each other,” Hurts said. “When we go through painful times and difficult times, we’ve always found a way to overcome. You want to go through a situation like this, and we have a chance to go out and win everything, so we want to get ready to go and do it.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes poses with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL AFC Championship game, January 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo.
AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann
Mahomes battled an ankle injury to help the Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 and advance to their third Super Bowl appearance in four years.
He had no intention of lighting a victory cigar after a hard fought victory.
“I don’t think we have cigars, but we’ll be ready to go to the Super Bowl,” Mahomes said, poking fun at Joe Burrow’s penchant for puffing them after big wins.
Only a QB can win the Super Bowl. Whether it’s Hurts or Mahomes, it’s another win for black QBs that have been overlooked over the years.
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