Super Bowl 2023: Eagles' Jalen Hurts proud of 'historic moment' in 1st matchup of Black QBs

(Moe Haidar/Yahoo Sports)
(Moe Haidar/Yahoo Sports)

February marks the celebration of Black History Month. This year’s theme — according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History — is “Resistance.” Yahoo Sports will feature a series of stories highlighting the achievements of pioneering African Americans whose very being is a form of resistance against the status quo in their respective fields.

PHOENIX — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said he thinks of himself as a student of the game. That means he's well aware of the history he's about to make.

A big topic for Hurts and others at Super Bowl LVII Opening Night on Monday was the matchup between himself and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. It's the first time two Black quarterbacks have started a Super Bowl.

It's unfortunate that it took until the 57th Super Bowl to hit that milestone, but Hurts is embracing what it means.

"It's a historic moment. It's a historic moment," Hurts said. "I feel like it gives a ton of people back home something to look forward to. It's telling kids that maybe if someone is telling them they can't do something, that it can be done. It's great to be a part of history."

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, is aware of what the historic matchup means for many who will be watching.

"I'd be lying to you if I told you this was not something emotional," said Smith, who is Black. "I think that's what this is for many people."

Jalen Hurts will 'carry the torch'

On Monday night, Hurts mentioned some of the Black quarterbacks who came before him. He talked about having a black No. 7 Atlanta Falcons jersey when Mike Vick was the quarterback there.

"A couple years later I had the green one for Philly," Hurts said, referencing Vick joining the Eagles in 2009.

Hurts is young. He's 24 years old and in his third season in the NFL. But he expressed an appreciation for the history of Black quarterbacks, particularly with the Eagles.

"I think about all of the quarterbacks that came through Philly: Randall Cunningham, Rodney Peete, Donovan McNabb, Mike Vick," Hurts said. "This franchise, the history we have of African American quarterbacks, that speaks for itself. I told those guys, I want to carry that torch for them."

Later at the media event, Mahomes said he had a lot of respect for Hurts and was happy to share history with him.

"So many people laid the foundation before us," Mahomes said. "It’s going to be a special moment."

The Super Bowl will be watched by about 100 million people, and the two biggest stars of the game will be Black quarterbacks.

"It's an opportunity to see two great people at the top of their craft, not only representing their sport and their league, but their families and people who look up to them with an emotional connection maybe they aren't even aware of," Smith said.

"These are two great men who are also two great quarterbacks. But I think it would be somewhat disingenuous, at least for me, to say that the fact that there are two Black quarterbacks doesn't mean something special to me."

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts speaks to the media before Super Bowl LVII. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts speaks to the media before Super Bowl LVII. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Hurts wants to lay foundation for others

Hurts and Mahomes share history, but they're different players. Mahomes is a strong-armed quarterback who is brilliant at making plays from impossible angles. Hurts is a dangerous dual threat who can pass it and also led the Eagles in rushing touchdowns. They have different styles but similar success. They each led their teams to the Super Bowl. They will probably end up 1-2 in the NFL MVP vote.

"They are the two best quarterbacks in the NFL this year," Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.

Hurts was comfortable on the big stage as Super Bowl week festivities started. The cameras and reporters around his podium at media night was almost always seven or eight rows deep. He joked about his fashion sense, talked about his faith and how he used the doubts about him as a quarterback to fuel his big jump this season.

Hurts said he is ready to use his platform this week to inspire others.

"There are so many quarterbacks before me that laid the foundation for me to have this opportunity," Hurts said. "So many African American quarterbacks have played this game, and for the first time for two to go head to head, that's uplifting for the next generations of quarterbacks. The 4- or 5-year old kids back in Houston, back in Philly, back in Texas, Louisiana, wherever across the world, regardless of what someone might say or have an opinion about you, you can do it, too."