OPINION: Mahomes Super Bowl victory icing on the cake for Black QBs

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OPINION: Mahomes Super Bowl victory icing on the cake for Black QBs

2019 was the season of the Black QB. The regular season MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Rookie of the Year were all Black quarterbacks for the first time ever.

2019 was the season of the Black QB. The regular season MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Rookie of the Year were all Black quarterbacks for the first time ever.

Kelly Kiernan

2019 was the season of the Black QB. The regular season MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Rookie of the Year were all Black quarterbacks for the first time ever.

Kelly Kiernan

Kelly Kiernan

2019 was the season of the Black QB. The regular season MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and Rookie of the Year were all Black quarterbacks for the first time ever.

Nijzel Dotson

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Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the National Football League, a casual fan at best or fall somewhere in between, it wouldn’t be much of a reach to assume you know that the quarterback is often regarded as the most important player on the football field. 

I find it very interesting that in a league that has been predominantly Black since at least the early 1980s, this position happens to be more unapologetically white than just about every other position in football (kickers and punters give them a run for their money).

Adding insult to injury, it also happens to be the historically highest-paid position.

I wouldn’t say that any of this is a coincidence. Quarterbacks are held to a higher standard. They’re considered leaders of men, who are capable of carrying their team to victory with their accuracy and intelligent decision making. In most cases they are considered the face of their respective franchise and it’s because of this that they are rewarded so handsomely financially.

When you read in between the lines, I think the NFL has sent a clear message throughout history that they don’t think Black players are as capable of meeting these standards as white players are.  

The league is predominantly Black, so that means it’s considered perfectly fine for Black people to be running full speed every play, not thinking about anything other than getting to their spot or preventing their opponent from getting to theirs. But having a Black man behind the line-of-scrimmage forced to analyze the whole field and make a good decision with the ball is seen as a risk that not too many have been willing to take. 

That’s just on the field, you can only imagine the reluctance teams have had about making a Black player the face of their team.

There have certainly been Black quarterbacks who have beat the odds and overcome this disgusting reality, but how many times have they been given the proper credit they are owed?

Time after time a Black quarterback has stepped onto the scene, torn the league apart and been diminished by many to nothing more than a “running quarterback”; from Michael Vick, who was not just an electrifying runner but one of the best deep passers in the league in his early 2000s Atlanta Falcon run, to Cam Newton who’s 2015 MVP campaign was one of the greatest ever.

A backhanded compliment if there ever was one, an acknowledgement of their feats while also simultaneously ignoring the things that they bring to the table besides athleticism. 

So how sweet it is that Patrick Mahomes, a player with about as amazing of an arm as anyone in the history of the sport, joined Russell Wilson (2014) and Doug Williams (1988), as the only Black starting quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is the biggest stage in All-American sports and it’s almost unfathomable that in over half a century of games, only three times has this occurred.

By leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a come-from-behind victory against the San Francisco 49ers, Mahomes, the Super Bowl LIV MVP wrote the perfect closing chapter to what has been a storybook NFL season for Black quarterbacks.

Mahomes historic accomplishment came on the heels of Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Kyler Murray and Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Lamar Jackson winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player respectively, not even 24 hours prior at the ninth NFL Honors ceremony meant to award the stellar play of players across the league during the 2019 NFL regular season.

In just his second season in the NFL, Jackson became the second unanimous MVP in league history and his path to greatness is it’s own chapter in the story of the Black quarterback revolution we watched unfold this season.

Despite being an exceptional college player, Jackson was the last pick of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, taken behind several other quarterbacks. 

As a rookie, he led his team to the playoffs but a first-round playoff exit opened the door for critics to make him the latest victim of the running quarterback stereotype, some even questioning if he should change positions.

A year later, Jackson is an MVP, leading the league in touchdown passes and becoming the first player with over 3,000 passing yards and over 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.

The criticisms that Jackson has had to face in his young career are a reminder of the microscope that Black quarterbacks are forced to play under. Regardless of statistical dominance, they are seen as a failure if they don’t achieve ultimate playoff success (even though some of their white counterparts can play on a stacked team, play average or do the bare minimum and be heaped with praise in a victory, and not be torn to shreds nearly the same way in a loss).

Thankfully, in a year where Jackson accomplished just about everything but winning the Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes made sure to pick up the baton and finish the race by going on a historic playoff run.

An argument can be made that the accomplishments of just those two alone could qualify as a revolution but there are other Black quarterbacks in the league doing great things for good measure.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the second Black QB to win a Super Bowl, is still very much an elite and is as clutch as they come. 

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to amaze and, along with Jackson and Mahomes, will likely headline the next generation of NFL stars at the quarterback position. 

Dak Prescott is the leading man for the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most valuable and most recognizable sports brands in the entire world.

These are just some examples of Black quarterbacks, doing what once seemed like the impossible. 

Some may be quick to pit them against each other, but why do that when you could just sit back and enjoy the changing of the guard happening before your very eyes.