The rise of black NFL quarterbacks has been both swift and spectacular. Just over 40 years after Doug Williams became the first African American passer to be selected in the opening round of the NFL draft, black quarterbacks now occupy positions of prominence throughout professional sports’ most successful league.
Once dismissed as a group by the NFL’s longtime wrongheaded thinking based on skin color, black signal-callers have proven they possess the mettle, smarts and talent needed to thrive at the game’s most important position. They have been No. 1 overall draft picks. They have won league MVP awards. They have led teams to Super Bowl championships. One is even enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Talk about closing a gap.
And today’s superstar black passers – Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott – are continuing to build on the accomplishments of the trailblazers who kicked down the door for them. Let’s look at some of the most important moments in their climb to the top.