Super Bowl 2023: The Game The Black Community Wanted
About four months ago, I wrote about how this NFL season was “The Year of the Black Quarterback.” The regular season began with 11 Black quarterbacks starting for their teams, marking an NFL record. Now, nearing the end of the season, more history has been made.
For the first time, two Black quarterbacks will face off at Super Bowl LVII for the right to hold up the Lombardi trophy. In the 103 years the NFL has existed, only 3 Black gunslingers have won Super Bowls as the starter for their team: Doug Williams, Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. That’s it.
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History like this hasn’t been made since 2007 when two Black head coaches (Tony Dungy and Lovie) played each other in Super Bowl XLI.
Every season, I always say, there are too many talented Black QBs in the league for at least not one of them to be in the “Big Game.” This year we will have two of them. In the case of Hurts and Mahomes, these players aren’t just along for the ride as the talent around them carries them; they each were the catalyst and most valuable players that led their teams to victories throughout the regular season and in the playoffs.
While we’re getting a historical game in two weeks, nothing was shocking about these two squads making the Superbowl. The Chiefs and the Eagles both finished with the best record in their respective conferences and Mahomes and Hurts will likely finish first and second in MVP voting.
On one side of the field, we have Jalen Hurts, a third-year quarterback who has been doubted by NFL “aficionados” and other players throughout his college and professional career. While at the University of Alabama, he was benched during a national championship as he watched his backup lead a team to win. But, he handled it with class.
After transferring to the University of Oklahoma and having a Heisman-worthy season, draft experts claimed he wasn’t an NFL-level thrower. And then, post leading the Eagles to the playoffs in his second year in the league, others still questioned if he was a franchise quarterback. Now, after all of the doubts, all of the hate, and all of the questions, Jalen Hurts is going to the Bowl.
Patrick Mahomes on the other hand is considered by many to be a generational talent. Similar to Hurts, coming out of college Mahomes was criticized for his “sloppy” style of play and taking chances when they weren’t needed. But, ever since Mahomes has stepped on the field as an NFL starter, he’s simply been the best player in the league. Period, end of discussion.
Since he became a full-time starter in 2018, he’s led the league in touchdown passes (192), passing yards (24,241), and passer rating (105.7). He’s won a league MVP (on his way to a second), a Super Bowl, a Super Bowl MVP and has hosted the AFC championship in his home stadium every year. He’s one of one. Oh, and he’s only 27 years old.
Some might not think that a matchup between two Black QBs is all that important. Trust me, there will be people out there who will say, “this is simply a game between the two best teams for the right to win a championship.” But, it’s not.
The NFL has a long and racist history with Black QBs. There was a time when people questioned if Black quarterbacks had the intellectual capability to play the most mentally challenging position in American team sports. Often praised for their athletic ability, they’ve been criticized for not having the acumen to be the signal caller for a professional football team.
Now, nearly 50 years after James “Shack” Harris and Marlin Briscoe became the first wave of Black players to start at the position, the two best teams in the NFL are being led by two Black QBs and Black people couldn’t be happier about it.
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