It’s taken 57 years for two Black quarterbacks to face each other in a Super Bowl, and Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are both proud to be a part of that significant historical and cultural milestone.
“I think it’s history,” Hurts said Thursday. “I think it’s something that’s worthy of being noted. It is history. It’s come a long way. I think there’s only been seven African-American quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl, so to be the first for something is pretty cool.”
Only seven Black quarterbacks have started a Super Bowl, starting with Washington’s Doug Williams after the 1987 season and more recently the Titans' Steve McNair in 1999, the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb in 2004, the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick in 2012, Seattle’s Russell Wilson in 2013 and 2014, the Panthers’ Cam Newton in 2015 and Mahomes in 2019 and 2020 prior to this year.
Williams, Wilson and Mahomes are Super Bowl winners, and Williams and Mahomes were both MVPs.
The first 46 Super Bowls featured just three Black quarterbacks. But since 2012, seven of 11 Super Bowls will have had at least one.
“To be on the world stage and have two Black quarterbacks start in the Super Bowl, I think it’s special,” Mahomes told reporters covering the Chiefs Thursday in Kansas City. “I’ve learned more and more about the history of Black quarterbacks since I’ve been in this league and the guys that came before me and Jalen set the stage for this, and I’m just glad we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now.”
Hurts’ locker is in the same spot at the NovaCare Complex as McNabb’s locker used to be, and he's made it clear how much he values those who came before him, including McNabb, Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick with the Eagles. He has relationships with all three.
“Mike Vick, Cam (Newton), Randall Cunningham, McNabb, all of those types of guys are guys that a lot of young kids looked up to,” he said. “A lot of young Black kids, as well. Steve McNair, all those guys.”
Williams was the only Black quarterback to start a Super Bowl until McNair in 2000, and he said in an interview Sunday with ESPN Andscape’s Jason Reid that having two Black quarterbacks start a Super Bowl is incredibly meaningful.
“Whenever you take big steps and accomplish things that haven’t been accomplished before, with everything we’ve been through, all the hurdles, yeah, it means a lot for all of us,” Williams said. “It has been such a long, hard road, so, yeah, there’s a lot of emotion.
“When you have two Black quarterbacks get to this point, the guys leading the best two teams, you can’t deny what we can do. You can’t deny that we’ve gotten to this point, where we knew we could be, despite all the barriers. And for it to be those two guys? Man."
Not only are Mahomes and Hurts starting in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale a week from Sunday, they are both leading candidates for MVP.
They ranked No. 1 and 2 in passer rating among QBs throwing more than 400 passes, and ranked first and fourth in total touchdowns – Mahomes with 45 and Hurts with 35.
Mahomes, 27, and Hurts, 24, will also tie the Super Bowl record for youngest combined age by the two starting QBs. Brett Favre was 27 and Drew Bledsoe 24 when they started Super Bowl XXXI in the Superdome after the 1996 season.
Mahomes emphasized how important it is for Black quarterbacks to inspire young kids to believe they can play quarterback at a high level.
“You’ve seen over time whenever a guy like Doug Williams or Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb goes out and plays great football it gives other guys like me and Jalen chances to have this platform and have this spot on an NFL team,” Mahomes said.
“So if we can continue to show that we can be consistently great it will continue to open doors for other kids growing up to follow their dream and be a quarterback of an NFL team. It’s good that we have guys like Jalen on the other side. He’s a great person and obviously a great quarterback.”
Whoever wins the game, this is guaranteed to be the fourth Super Bowl won by a Black quarterback.
“We have a lot of great (Black) quarterbacks in this league and I’m glad that I’m a part of it and we’ll continue to evolve the game and set the standard the right way,” Hurts said. “It’s happened before us and it will continue after us as well.”
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