As we prepare to watch the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Sunday, it is important to remember Black History Month runs in tandem with this unofficial American holiday. Despite declining viewership, the NFL is still one of the most watched sports in the country and is dominated by African-Americans who currently make up two-thirds of the league. With that much Black representation in the NFL comes a lot of Black History including the first Black Quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl.
This year, it’s the “G.O.A.T.” Tom Brady versus the unexpected hero, Nick Foles. Two years ago, it was the old man and hall of fame worthy, Peyton Manning, versus the young and unpredictable MVP Cam Newton. But in 1988, it was Broncos legend and future Hall-of-Famer John Elway versus backup Quarterback Doug Williams.
Prior to the 1987 season, Williams had not played in multiple NFL games in a season since 1982 as a Quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Williams spent a period of time playing for the USFL team, the Arizona Outlaws, but following the folding of the USFL, Williams was picked up by the Washington Redskins.
For the 1988 championship, the Denver Broncos took on the Washington Redskins. Both teams took four losses in the regular season but the Redskins had more wins thanks to a tie game the Broncos had during the season against the Green Bay Packers.
Elway was selected to the AFC Pro Bowl game and won the Most Valuable Player award as well that season. The Broncos had been to the Super Bowl the year before but lost to a different NFC East team, the New York Giants, so the city was thirsty for another shot at glory.
As for the Redskins, before there were thoughts of a Super Bowl, Williams was competing with ‘Skins quarterback Jay Schroeder throughout the regular season for the starting job. According to Redskins.com, a lackluster performance from Schroeder in the final game of the season and stud level play in the same game from Williams became the deciding factor of who would be the starter going into the post-season.
Things started out slow for Washington in the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos got out to a quick start with a 10-0 lead, but Williams and the Washington Redskins rallied scoring 42 unanswered points against the back-to-back AFC champions. Williams threw for 340 yards passing and 4 touchdowns earning him Super Bowl MVP honors. Williams is still the only Black Quarterback to win a Super Bowl MVP award.