Super Bowl LVII is approaching; the Miami Dolphins did not make it. Okay, I will stop there.
Diverse storylines are going into Super Bowl LVII, which will be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, between two number-one seeds in, the Kansas City Chiefs representing the AFC and the Philadelphia Eagles representing the NFC.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid will coach against the other team that he took to a Super Bowl, the Eagles.
Brothers Travis, who plays tight end for the Chiefs, and Jason Kelce, who plays center for the Eagles, will face one another. That is the first time that has ever happened.
The cost for a 30-second commercial spot during this Super Bowl is seven million dollars.
There are more storylines for the Chiefs versus the Eagles besides the game.
The quarterback matchup of Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Jalen Hurts of the Eagles will be the youngest combined age of Super Bowl quarterbacks (Mahomes, age 27, Hurts, age 24).
Age is nothing but a number.
Thirty-five years after Doug Williams became the first Black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl, in this season’s NFL championship game for the first time, black quarterbacks go head to head in the biggest game we have in American sports.
From Williams, the first black quarterback to win a super bowl, to this year’s matchup of Mahomes and Hurts, to this spring’s NFL Draft when Bryce Young out of Alabama and CJ Stroud out of Ohio State are presumed to be top five picks, it is not hard to see how different the position is viewed than it was not too long ago. If you are younger, it is easy to shrug and wonder what the big deal is. My response is you are right. However, take in the history of the black quarterback; the realization is a big deal.
Happy Black History Month.
“It is special; there have been so many great ones that have not been recognized because of the stereotypes of the black quarterback not being able to have sustained success,” Mahomes said. “For me to follow in the footsteps of Doug Williams and guys before me and then play against Jalen Hurts, it is going to be a great challenge for us to go against them, but I am glad that I can be on this world stage with another quarterback that is at a high level and show we have been able to do this the whole time.”
Williams led Washington to a 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII following the 1987 season. He threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.
Since then, six Black quarterbacks have started in the Super Bowl, including Mahomes twice, but never two in the same game.
“It will be a moment; my grandparents, my father, my parents, they see it because they grew up in a different time than we are growing up now. It is a special moment; it is a historical moment,” Hurts said. “For the young kids watching at home, maybe there is a kid their coach wants them to try the position, but they think they cant do it. I’m glad to be someone that is uplifting people to keep going and keep fighting. You can do it if you put your mind to it.”
Both quarterbacks enter the game nursing injuries.
Mahomes said he did not aggravate his high ankle sprain in the Chiefs’ AFC Championship Game victory against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He was scheduled to be a full practice participant as the Chiefs began preparations for the Super Bowl.
Hurts also have been battling an injury, as he suffered an SC joint sprain in his right shoulder on Dec. 18 against the Chicago Bears. He returned for the Eagles’ season finale and the postseason.
Both quarterbacks have admitted to not being fully recovered nonetheless will not miss the game.
The Eagles are a team with a rich history of not just black quarterbacks but elite black quarterbacks in Randall Cunningham, Rodney Peete, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick.
“It is something I have realized as the journey has gone on. I have always had my memories of McNabb, Rodney Peete, Randall Cunningham, and Michael Vick, of course,” Hurts said. “To have the opportunity to lead this place, I think it is special.”
Hurts number one and Mahomes number two with the highest QBR as pocket passers. Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban when he benched Hurts for Tua Tagovailoa, the number one thing he emphasized to Hurts was that he needed to be a better passer. He has improved, and he is slept on now as a pocket passer.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; I play the game in a unique way. Being able to be consistent in the run game, being consistent in the passing game, mentally what my plan is, and knowing what I want to do based on my preparation that the beautiful part about all of this, Hurts said. “Everybody has an opinion about something, but everybody and their opinions don’t deposit at the bank.”
Hurts has combined for 39 pass and rush touchdowns this season, including in the playoffs. He is now the eighth different black quarterback to start a Super Bowl.
“To be on the world stage and have two Black quarterbacks start in the Super Bowl, I think it’s special, and I’ve learned more about the history of the Black quarterback since I’ve been in this league,” Mahomes said Thursday. “The guys that came before Jalen and I set the stage for this, and now, I’m just glad that we can kind of set the stage for guys that are kids that are coming up now.
Mahomes is playing in his third super bowl; he is 1-1 in the Super Bowl.
“You’ve seen over time, whenever Doug Williams or Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb go out and play great football, it gives other guys like Jalen and me chances to have this platform and have this spot on an NFL team,” Mahomes said. “And so, if we can continue to show that we can consistently be great, I think it’ll just continue to open doors, for other kids growing up to follow their dreams, to be a quarterback of the NFL team. It’s good that we have guys like Jalen on the other side. He’s a great person and obviously a great quarterback.”
Once entirely off-limits to Black players, the NFL began to integrate in earnest throughout the 1950s. Washington, the last team to desegregate, finally drafted its first Black player in 1962.
There will be a point in this game to enjoy Rihanna’s halftime performance; when the game itself ends, there can only be one champion, and history will be made. However, at the quarterback position itself, no matter who wins, the legend of the black quarterback wins.