As the first Super Bowl to feature two Black starting quarterbacks, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts did not disappoint Sunday.
Mahomes carried the Chiefs to a dramatic second-half rally, claiming a 38-35 victory in Super Bowl 57. Hurts accounted for four touchdowns, three rushing, and one passing.
Mahomes and Hurts are two of eight Black QBs who have competed for a Lombardi Trophy. Mahomes, who has appeared in three of the past four Super Bowls, is the first to win two rings.
Amid the celebrations on Sunday, proper homage was paid to those who helped blaze the trail, like Kenny Washington and Doug Williams.
“We’re going to celebrate the right way,” Mahomes said during a live post-game, on-field interview.
This #BlackHistoryMonth, remember the men who paved the way for black NFL players. Kenny Washington was the first black man to sign a NFL contract in the modern era in 1946, and George Taliaferro was the first black man selected in the NFL Draft. #BlackExcellence pic.twitter.com/TGngNPiLSY
— Dwight Freeney (@dwightfreeney) February 1, 2019
Kenny Washington Broke Pro Football’s Color Barrier
From 1933-46, NFL owners held a fraternity-wide agreement: No Black players would compete for any of their teams. None did until UCLA standout Kenny Washington broke the color barrier, signing with the Los Angeles Rams on March 21, 1946.
Newly relocated from Cleveland, the Rams were the defending league champions and were obligated to sign a Black player or the franchise would lose its lease with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Nicknamed “The Kingfish,” Washington established a then-record 3,206 of total offense at UCLA. As a senior, Washington was named the top player in college football but was forced to play in the minor leagues, where he ran roughshod over the competition. His knees paid the price.
By the time the Rams called, a year before Jackie Robinson had broken the MLB color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Washington was not the same player as he was seven years earlier.
In 27 career games with the Rams, Washington gained 859 yards on 140 carries, scoring eight touchdowns. He retired following the 1948 season.
Washington doesn’t often match the recognition Robinson received for helping to break down racial barriers, but the ill-treatment he received on and off the field certainly mirrored his counterpart.
Let's make history. #SBLVII
📺: #SBLVII — 6:30pm ET on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ pic.twitter.com/qm9IMAeijN
— NFL (@NFL) February 12, 2023
Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts Blazing Modern QB Trail
Black quarterbacks are becoming more in vogue in the NFL. A record 21 different Black signal-callers threw at least one pass this season. Fifteen of the 32 teams started a Black QB in at least one game, accounting for 29 percent of the season’s starts.
Mahomes, at 27 years old, is the first player in NFL history to collect two Super Bowl titles and league MVP honors during his initial six seasons. NFL analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Woodson said Sunday that Mahomes is the best QB to ever play the game.
Over Tom Brady and his seven championship rings?
Watch him, Woodson said.
Hurts, who had a rocky first two seasons with the Eagles, settled into his role and looks like the franchise’s long-term starter.
When Williams started and earned the Super Bowl XXII MVP award, Black QBs were still a novelty.