Super Bowl

Super Bowl LVII: History-Making Mahomes vs. Hurts Long Overdue

The Super Bowl LVII matchup is finally set. We have the Kansas City Chiefs representing the AFC and the Philadelphia Eagles representing the NFC. And we’ve got a ton of storylines. 

Some people have already dubbed this the Andy Reid Bowl because Andy took Philadelphia to a Super Bowl, where the Eagles were beaten by New England 17 years ago. He’s also coached Kansas City to two Super Bowls, winning one of them and losing the other. Now he’s back with the Chiefs for a third time in four years. 

We’re also going to be talking about this as the Kelce Bowl – Jason Kelce, the All-Pro center, and Travis Kelce, the All-Pro tight end. Jason with Philadelphia. Travis with Kansas City. 

But the thing I’m zeroed in on is this: We have two black quarterbacks playing in this game, against each other, for the first time in NFL history. Yes, we keep breaking chains along the way and we keep breaking through the glass ceiling. And there will be a lot of people saying, “Why are we even talking about this anymore?”

Well, it’s important because we could have had this a long time ago, but the league and others chose not to go in that direction or accept people to play that position for the longest time.

Evolution of Black QBs

I’m the product of a black quarterback. My father played at an HBCU – Bluefield State in West Virginia. He didn’t get a chance to play for the University of West Virginia. They sure weren’t recruiting black quarterbacks in the 1950s; that wasn’t going to happen. 

But to watch the evolution, to watch a guy like Eldridge Dickey go from Tennessee State and be a first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1968 and not really get his shot, then become a wide receiver and essentially die of a broken heart. 

To watch Joe Gilliam win the starting job in 1974 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and go 4-1-1 in six starts, then loses his job somewhat by his own doing because of some off-field issues. Terry Bradshaw steps in, goes to and wins four Super Bowls, and goes to the Hall of Fame. A missed opportunity.

To see Colin Kaepernick start the Super Bowl for San Francisco and to see Russell Wilson go to two and win one with the Seattle Seahawks. 

And, of course, the big one was Doug Williams. We all watched him take over late in the season for Jay Schroeder in 1987. And then having had his wisdom teeth pulled out prior to the Super Bowl, he leads Washington to a second-quarter explosion – 35 points and four touchdowns. He wins Super Bowl MVP and pretty much lays to rest the idea that black quarterbacks can’t win, can’t handle pressure, and can’t be tough when the going gets that way.

Historic Super Bowl Matchup

And now, we’ve got two of the best, two of the young ones, two of the new-age quarterbacks – Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts. We’ve seen Mahomes before; he’s already been to two Super Bowls with Kansas City, winning one against San Francisco in 2019, and losing two years ago against Tampa Bay and Tom Brady.

Hurts, a second-round pick that many thought wouldn’t be a starter in the NFL, had lost his job at Alabama to Tua Tagovailoa. Guess what? He’s become a contender for MVP of the league this season, and he’s clearly the guy that’s taking Philadelphia to the Super Bowl by being able to throw it, run it, and outthink you on the field as well. 

So, this is a big deal for all of us who have grown up and been told we can’t play quarterback because it’s a thinking-man’s position. I know people may say, “Oh, I’m tired of hearing about it.” Well, guess what? You’re going to keep hearing about it. 

This could have happened a long time ago if people had been open and accepting and let everyone play that position instead of moving them and having them become wideouts and defensive backs and running backs.

Source of Pride

But now it’s here and we’re going to see it and witness it. And there will be a lot of pride for a lot of people who didn’t get that opportunity, a lot of pride for people who have championed this opportunity and now are seeing it all happen.

I wear my University of Tennessee gear proudly. What attracted me to Tennessee was seeing a young man by the name of Condredge Holloway, the first black starting quarterback in the SEC. As a 10-year-old in New Paltz, N.Y., I watched him play on TV in 1974 against UCLA, when he led Tennessee to a 17-17 tie. After getting hurt in the game, he came back from the hospital, returned to the field, scored a touchdown, and then scored a tying two-point conversion. 

I told my dad that day that I was going to Tennessee and I was going to play quarterback. Well, I went to Tennessee, but I didn’t play quarterback. That doesn’t mean I don’t love the people who do play the position.

I’m rooting for Patrick Mahomes. I’m rooting for Jalen Hurts. And I’m rooting for all of us who love this great game of football.

Charles Davis is an NFL analyst for CBS and NFL Network. He joined the sports media world after playing safety at the University of Tennessee.

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