Former Washington quarterback Doug Williams had a chance at becoming the first Super Bowl-winning Black quarterback ever against John Elway and the Denver Broncos in 1988. The Grambling State alum proceeded to etch his name in NFL history by winning Super Bowl XXII, and his gritty performance remains an inspiration decades later.
The game started as horribly as possible for Washington. Denver jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead thanks to a 56-yard passing touchdown from Elway and a 23-yard field goal from Rich Karlis, and – to make matters even worse – Williams hyperextended his knee.
Backup Jay Schroeder took a sack and failed to complete his lone pass in Williams’ stead, but Williams returned the following drive to give Washington’s offense the jumpstart it desperately needed. On his very first play back, Williams hit Ricky Sanders for an 80-yard touchdown to cut Denver’s lead to three. Williams threw another three touchdowns – including a 50-yarder to Sanders – in an eventual 35-point second-quarter barrage, helping Washington to a big lead it would never relinquish.
“To get that done against that Denver defense and Elway, and getting that ring, that is definitely iconic,” CBS Sports’ Brandon Baylor said. ” … it was a different beast.”
Williams completed 18 of his 29 passes for 340 yards and the aforementioned four touchdowns in Washington’s resounding 42-10 victory, earning him Super Bowl MVP honors. Just two Black starting quarterbacks have won a Super Bowl since, Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, and Mahomes is the only other Super Bowl MVP.
With Black quarterbacks such as Mahomes, Wilson, Arizona’s Kyler Murray and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson dominating today’s NFL, it probably won’t be long until another follows in Williams’ ground-breaking footsteps.