Black Excellence on Center Stage: The Cultural Significance of Patrick Mahomes vs Jalen Hurts in Super Bowl LVII

Cheryl Evans-USA TODAY Sports

Black Excellence on Center Stage: The Cultural Significance of Patrick Mahomes vs Jalen Hurts in Super Bowl LVII


Black Excellence on Center Stage: The Cultural Significance of Patrick Mahomes vs Jalen Hurts in Super Bowl LVII


February is Black History Month. In a country where African-Americans had to go through trials and tribulations to achieve their goals, February is a month of observance for how African-Americans have had an impact with many of their discoveries and accomplishments. Super Bowl 58 takes place this Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs will square off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Arizona at State Farm Stadium. Two talented teams squaring off with a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy. 

It is also a first for the NFL in some areas. For the first time ever, two starting quarterbacks who are African-American will square off against one another in the Super Bowl. This hasn’t happened since the NFL has been around and this is a significant event. Considering the stigmas surrounding black quarterbacks, it is a huge deal that we get to see two talented quarterbacks square off against one another in one of the biggest stages.

When it comes to African-American quarterbacks, they were often viewed in a negative light unlike their white counterparts. The negative stereotypes that would be used for the black quarterbacks would vary from they weren’t capable of leading their team to a Super Bowl let alone winning it. Some viewed them as only athletes and not passers and said they were not smart enough to read defenses, and they only relied on their rushing ability due to their read and dissect defenses. 

Some may view the black quarterback as the most disrespected position in all of football, and that might be true. You can make a case that black quarterbacks are on shorter leashes than their white counterparts. Meaning that the chances that their job will be diminished if they were to play poorly and not given another chance with better talent.

Cheryl Evans-USA TODAY Sports

It isn’t a hot take to say that the NFL didn’t accept black quarterbacks right away. Warren Moon is an example. Despite having success at the collegiate level at the University of Washington, Warren Moon chose to go to the CFL instead of going to the NFL. Moon chose that route because if he were to enter the 1978 NFL Draft, he believed that he would have been a late round pick and he wouldn’t get any opportunities to showcase his talent. Moon also would have been forced to switch to wide receiver. 

Retired Washington Redskins legend quarterback Doug Williams who was in the same draft class as Moon, was drafted and became the first African-American quarterback to be drafted in the first round. He was drafted that high because of Joe Gibbs, the Washington Redskins Hallf of Fame coach at the time. Gibbs, who was an offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the time, scouted Williams and advocated for the team to draft him. So history has shown that the NFL weren’t exactly accepting of black quarterbacks in their league although Williams was the exception. 

Warren Moon was a star in the Canadian Football League winning multiple Grey Cup championships (Super Bowl equivalent) and multiple Grey Cup MVP’s with the then named Edmonton Eskimos. He eventually made the jump to the NFL and he showcased why the NFL made a mistake not drafting him coming out of college. It took a while but it showcased the issues that the NFL had when it came to black quarterbacks. 

As the NFL progressed, we started to see black quarterbacks get more opportunities to showcase their abilities and change the game of football in some ways. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback legend Randall Cunningham was an influence, showcasing not only his rushing ability but his ability to throw at a high level. Without Cunningham, we probably wouldn’t get quarterbacks like Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, and Donovan McNabb in the early 2000’s. Additionally, the NFL wouldn’t have the likes of  Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Justin Fields in this generation without the work of those from the past.  

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson faced bias when he was coming out of college. Despite putting up numbers and winning a Heisman at the University of Louisville, many draft experts doubted Lamar’s ability to play quarterback in the NFL. Bill Polian, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a former general manager said he would only take Lamar Jackson if he were to switch to playing a different position. 

He claimed that Lamar was short despite him being 6’3 and he wasn’t an accurate passer. Jackson was eventually drafted as the last pick in the first round in 2018 by the Baltimore Ravens. In his second season, he emerged as the starter for Baltimore guiding the Ravens to the top seed in the AFC. Jackson led one of the most dynamic and fearful rushing offenses in all of football, won the regular season award unanimously and was a first team all-pro selection.

We have seen black quarterbacks evolve and become more than just athletes. These quarterbacks are showing off their talent with not only their athleticism but their passing ability. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has ridiculous arm strength, pinpoint accuracy, and his ability to make highlight plays. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has improved since he was a rookie, showcasing not only his rushing ability but his passing ability as well. Seeing these two go up against one another is huge not only for the NFL but for young and upcoming football players who are African-American and play the quarterback position. 

If I were to tell NFL fans from 50 years ago that we would one day see two starting black quarterbacks compete against one another in the Super Bowl, they wouldn’t believe me. But it’s happening and we should all understand the significance of this. It shouldn’t take anything away from the actual game itself but it is something to consider. If Mahomes were to win the Super Bowl he would be the first black quarterback to win multiple Super Bowls. On the other hand, if Hurts were to win, he would be the fourth black quarterback to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Doug Williams are the three to win the Super Bowl as starters. 

This event showcases how much black quarterbacks had to go through to get to where they are today. From doubts of whether they are capable of leading a team to a Super Bowl, to whether they are capable of reading and dissecting a defense, black quarterbacks continue to smash those doubts. In some cases, they have influenced the game in some areas. Mobility and the ability to extend plays is a form of a requisite for the modern-day quarterback. It has influenced the white counterparts as we see Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Danile Jones expose defenses with their mobility and athleticism When the Super Bowl kicks off on Sunday we will witness not only a great game but a historic accomplishment for black quarterbacks.


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