There are plenty of storylines in Super Bowl LVII, from Travis and Jason Kelce becoming the first pair of brothers to play against each other in the Super Bowl to Chiefs coach Andy Reid facing the Eagles, who he coached for 13 years.
But the most important is undoubtedly the fact that Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts are about to become the first pair of Black starting quarterbacks to face off in the Super Bowl. In fact, Hurts will be just the eighth Black quarterback ever to start in the big game, after Mahomes became the seventh back in 2020.
The first Black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl was Doug Williams, who was named Super Bowl MVP in 1988 after leading Washington to its second championship.
After Williams came Steve McNair for the Titans in 2000, Donovan McNabb for the Eagles in 2005, Colin Kaepernick for the 49ers in 2013, Russell Wilson for the Seahawks in 2014 and 2015, Cam Newton for the Panthers in 2016 and Mahomes in 2020 and 2021.
Interestingly enough, after Williams, Wilson was the only one to win a Super Bowl until Mahomes, meaning that Black starting quarterbacks are just 3-7 overall in Super Bowls. That record doesn’t really matter, however, as Wilson was solid but unspectacular in his win and McNabb was brilliant in the Eagles’ 2005 loss.
In a league that has had a majority of Black players for decades, quarterback has always been a white position.
This is due in large part to the perception that Black quarterbacks are not as smart as their white counterparts, which is a constant in football media. While it is almost never put that bluntly, it becomes most obvious in draft analysis, when white quarterbacks who may lack some athleticism, like Mac Jones, are praised for their poise, awareness and ability to read the field, while Black quarterbacks who are extraordinary athletes, like Lamar Jackson, are bombarded with questions about switching positions.
Black quarterbacks are, and always have been, treated differently by the football world, both media and fans alike, but Hurts and Mahomes are combating this treatment in different ways.
Mahomes is the best quarterback in football by a wide margin, and can do everything that players like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning could do, but has added an element of improvisation and athleticism to that style of play that has made him more than just a football player, he has become an artist.
Simultaneously, the Eagles made heavy use of Hurts’ ability to run the ball. He has taken tremendous strides as a passer this year and become an excellent quarterback in his own right, something that many other Black quarterbacks have not been given the opportunity to do.
Mahomes has added some color to the list of the best quarterbacks of all-time, and Hurts represents what Black quarterbacks can become if given the same chances that their white counterparts so often are.
With Mahomes at the very top, Hurts on his way there, and players like Josh Dobbs and Josh Johnson becoming some of the first Black quarterbacks to join the ranks of journeymen who spend years in the NFL as backups, Black quarterbacks have never been in a better position.
The bottom line, however, is that even though there are more Black quarterbacks doing great things than there have ever been, the NFL has a long way to go. Black quarterbacks still face a level of scrutiny that many white ones don’t, and while two Black starters in the Super Bowl is an important step, it is by no means the last one.
Will is a senior studying journalism. Please note that the opinions expressed in this column do not represent those of The Post. Want to talk to Will? Tweet him @willocunningham.