A Look at Every Black Quarterback That’s Ever Played in The Super Bowl
Are you ready for some history making football!? On February 12, 2023, history will be made the moment both teams step onto the field for Super Bowl LVII. For the first time in the 56-year history of the NFL’s championship game two Black starting quarterbacks will be competing for the chance to be called champion. Let’s take a journey into every Black quarterback that’s ever played in The Super Bowl!
Patrick Mahomes will lead the Kansas City Chiefs to their third championship game appearance in four years, making him the first Black quarterback to appear in three Super Bowls. If he emerges victorious, Mahomes will be the first to win it twice.
He will face Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. This will mark Hurts’ first Super Bowl appearance, and at age 24, he will be the youngest starting quarterback in Philadelphia franchise history to play in the big game.
Whoever wins, Mahomes and Hurts already belong to an exclusive and prestigious club: Only seven Black quarterbacks have ever started in the Super Bowl (Hurts will be the eighth), and only three have won it.
Let’s take a look at the shoes these two great quarterbacks will be filling:
Team: Washington Redskins
Williams broke several racial barriers during his career, becoming the first Black quarterback chosen in the first round of an NFL draft in 1978. He joined the Washington Redskins (now called the Commanders) as backup quarterback in 1986, and the next year was the starter against the John Elway–led Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.
After trailing 10-0 early, Williams became the first player to throw four touchdown passes in a single Super Bowl quarter. Washington won 42-10, and Williams was named Super Bowl MVP, becoming the first Black quarterback to start in and win any NFL championship game, including those before the Super Bowl was established.
Team: Tennessee Titans
McNair fell just one yard short of becoming the second Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl. Spending most of his 13-year career with the Titans (he joined the franchise when it was still called the Houston Oilers), McNair led them to four playoff appearances, including Super Bowl XXXIV against the St. Louis Rams.
With Tennessee trailing 23-16 at the final play, McNair threw a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Kevin Dyson, who was tackled by Rams linebacker Mike Jones one yard shy of the end zone as time expired. In 2003, McNair became the first Black quarterback to win the Associated Press NFL MVP Award.
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
McNabb set no shortage of team records during his 11 seasons with Philadelphia, including pass attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), passing yards (32,873), and touchdown passes (216). He led the team to eight postseasons, five conference championship games, and an appearance against the New England Patriots at Super Bowl XXXIX.
McNabb had the best season of his career heading into the Super Bowl, becoming the first quarterback to throw more than 30 touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions in one season. Despite a close game, New England won the Super Bowl matchup 24-21.
Team: San Francisco 49ers
Years before famously taking a knee during the national anthem, Kaepernick led San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII after becoming starting quarterback in the middle of the 2012-13 season following Alex Smith’s injury. The Baltimore Ravens ultimately defeated the 49ers 34-31.
Kaepernick’s national anthem protest against racial inequality and police brutality in 2016 started a movement that drew praise and condemnation alike. After going unsigned as a free agent the next year, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league in retaliation for his protests. A confidential settlement was reached in 2019.
Team: Seattle Seahawks
Years: 2014 and 2015
Russell Wilson, who holds the record for most wins by a quarterback in his first nine seasons, was also the first of only two Black quarterbacks in NFL history to appear in multiple Super Bowls, which occurred back-to-back in 2014 and 2015.
Despite heading into Super Bowl XLVIII as the underdog against the Denver Broncos, Wilson led Seattle in a blowout 43-8 victory. The Seahawks attempted a repeat against the New England Patriots the next year but lost 28-24 after Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted Wilson’s pass at the goal line in one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history.
Team: Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton made an immediate splash upon entering the NFL in 2011, setting rookie records for passing and rushing yards and becoming the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a single season. But his best season came in 2015-16, when he led the Panthers to a franchise-best 15-1 and was named league MVP.
Carolina played the Denver Broncos that season in Super Bowl 50, during which 26-year-old Newton faced 39-year-old Peyton Manning. That set a record for largest age difference between two opposing Super Bowl quarterbacks. Newton was sacked six times in the defense-driven game, with Denver winning 24-10.
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Years: 2020, 2021, and 2023
At age 27, Mahomes is already a seasoned Super Bowl veteran, having led the Chiefs to three appearances in four years. Kansas City defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV in 2020, with Mahomes leading his team to a comeback in the final quarter.
Kansas City failed to achieve the repeat victory in Super Bowl LV the next year, falling 31-9 to the Tom Brady–led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nevertheless, Mahomes has had a stellar career so far, and a victory in the upcoming Super Bowl LVII would make him the first Black quarterback to win the championship twice.
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Hurts has come a long way since his rookie year in 2020, when he took over starting quarterback duties from Carson Wentz late in the year. The following season he led the Eagles to a playoff berth, and the addition of wide receiver A. J. Brown in 2022 helped Philadelphia achieve its first 8-0 start in franchise history.
Hurts finished the regular season with a 14-1 record and 35 touchdowns, tying Randall Cunningham’s single-season franchise record. A win against Kansas City on Sunday would make him the fourth black quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl.
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