The month of February is recognized as Black History month. A month where we celebrate impactful African American contributions in science, history, innovation, and much more.
Perfect Performance will use this month to recognize “Black History” in football. We will choose historic figures and moments to discuss how it has impacted the game of football today!
This week, we will discuss the impact of the Washington Football Team’s (Formerly the Washington Redskins) own Quarterback and Super Bowl XXII MVP, Doug Williams! Doug Williams will forever be remembered as the NFL’s first African American quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. Williams matriculated as a student-athlete at Grambling State University, a Historical Black College & University (HBCU) in Grambling, Louisiana. Upon completing a very successful career at Grambling State, Doug Williams was drafted in the first round (17th overall) of the 1978 National Football League (NFL) Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He led the Buccaneers to the NFL three seasons, but never reached the Super Bowl.
Williams played in an era when black quarterbacks were scarce in the NFL and much less respected. He acknowledged that people were not ready to accept the success of a black quarterback in the NFL. However, in the 1987 season, he proved them all wrong by leading the Washington football team to Super Bowl XXII. He threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns earning him the honor of becoming the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl championship and to become the MVP. Since this date, we have seen 7 black quarterbacks make it to the Super Bowl (Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Patrick Mahomes). Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes join Williams as the three starting quarterbacks to win a super bowl.
The impact of Doug Williams extends beyond the Super Bowl. He fought for a bigger cause than just becoming a super bowl champion. He fought for the respect of black quarterbacks of the past, present, and future. He changed the stigma that black players are not good nor smart enough to succeed at the quarterback position. Since Williams’ time, we have seen Quarterbacks like Steve McNair, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, and many more prove that you can be a great athlete and a great quarterback. Over the past decade, we have seen players like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Lamar Jackson utilize their arms and legs to win games and to rewrite records. As the number of black starting quarterbacks in the NFL has continued to increase, we have seen the game evolve exponentially. Doug Williams was a trailblazer paving the way for all the black quarterbacks we root for today.
Challenge to Coaches
The success of Doug Williams would not have been possible without the belief from his coaches that he could succeed as a Black Quarterback in the NFL, in an era where quarterbacks were predominantly white. Fast forward to the 2018 NFL draft where we saw many coaches and sports analysts debate whether QB draftee Lamar Jackson should have changed his position due to his tremendous athletic ability. Fortunately, the Baltimore Ravens Head Coach, John Harbaugh, believed that Lamar could lead the Ravens and help them win. The Ravens drafted Lamar in the 1st Round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Because of Coach Harbaugh’s belief in Lamar, he became the fourth black quarterback to win the 2019 NFL MVP in history. I challenge coaches to have this same level of belief in your young black players. Who knows, they could become the next Doug Williams, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, or trailblaze their own path unlike one we have ever seen in the NFL. It all starts with the support of a great coach.
Challenge to Players/Athletes
A quick and simple challenge to players and athletes, in general, is to always believe in yourself. If Doug Williams had listened to his critics that he didn’t belong, who knows if the NFL would have ever seen this increase in black quarterbacks. This message goes for all positions.
Thank You Doug Williams!