Retrospective: The Evolution of Black NFL Quarterbacks

By @TrueGodImmortal

Now, in the NFL, we've seen a number of legendary quarterbacks that were black. While some quarterbacks didn't get the recognition they truly deserved, many others were heralded for their toughness, precision, and of course speed. For example, quarterbacks like Kordell Stewart were known more for their innate running ability at times than their actual passing ability. Kordell could throw for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns as well, but it seemed, like with most black quarterbacks, his run ability was almost greater and more of an eye catching highlight.

There was a controversial statement made on black quarterbacks, one of ignorance and it spawned this article honestly. See the ignorance below from Dexter Manley.

Despite his stupidity, the legacy of black quarterbacks keep growing and evolving. We had black quarterbacks like Doug Williams, who would win the Super Bowl and be the first black QB to do so. You would have James Harris, the starting QB for the Rams, showcase his skill and lead the Rams as best he could. There was the threat of the Vikings star Daunte Culpepper, who would have an amazing 2004 season, becoming a true MVP candidate. The role of the black quarterback has evolved some and while the fundamentals of being a quarterback are always in place, it is more so the advanced level play over the years that has seen some dominant quarterbacks.

When talking a dominant quarterback, one might go to the vilified Michael Vick, who was superb in every way. How many quarterbacks do you know that can run for 1,000 yards in a single season? The time he spent with the Falcons was essentially his claim to fame, and his absolute prime, but even after having the world turn against him due to the dog fighting situation, Vick proved he had the will to fight and to win, as he had a hell of a comeback year in 2010. He would lead the Eagles to a great run and a solid year as they made the playoffs. Speaking of the Eagles, another amazing black quarterback was Donovan McNabb. McNabb would take criticism throughout his career, but he is high on the list of all time black QBs. Despite the tragic end for Steve McNair, he was always one of the premier black quarterbacks as well. However, when the term black quarterback comes up, two legendary names instantly come to mind.

Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon. 

Cunningham was the essential running black quarterback, with his ability to showcase his speed and his precision, along with ability to outrun any pass rush. Warren Moon was a different animal. After going to the CFL first, Moon would come into the NFL and take the league by storm, making his mark as one of the best overall quarterbacks during his time in the league. He is a Hall of Famer, which is quite a big deal for a black quarterback. These are the legendary black quarterbacks, but what about today? The Evolution, the new blood? Who are the promising leaders today for black quarterbacks? Let's take a look.

*Colin Kaepernick

-He was once seen as the guy to lead the 49ers to the promised land. Unfortunately, despite leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, it was not enough. Colin is no longer the starter for the 49ers and his future admittedly looks a bit grim.


-Robert Griffin III is another quarterback with promising potential. At Baylor, RG3 was absolutely amazing. Hands down. The Redskins traded to get the no. 2 pick in the 2012 draft and selected him. It seemed as if the Redskins had found their new franchise quarterback. He started off great,  making history in his first game for the Redskins. His rookie season was quite amazing to be fair, but it was plagued by injury. He would lead the Redskins to the playoffs, but would have to leave the wild card game with a LCL and ACL injury. Since then, RG3 has been largely inconsistent and his issues are most due to injuries. He can't stay healthy long enough to fully complete a season as the starter. To this credit, he's only been playing a few seasons, so he could turn it around next season perhaps or in the future. Also to this credit, RG3 managed to be one of the first rookies ever with a ton of massive endorsement deals, earning big money in his first year. He represents the evolution of the black quarterback in this regard.

*Teddy Bridgewater 

-Bridgewater was the man in college at Louisville. After winning the Big East Rookie of the Year award in his freshman year, he would win Offensive Player of The Year in his sophomore year. After an amazing junior season, he entered the NFL draft and was selected as the last pick in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings. His rookie season would be up and down, but he ended up starting most of the season for the Vikings and won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award, instantly seeing success in his first year. This season, he has been the starter all throughout and the Vikings are in prime position to take their division and make a strong run in the playoffs. Though he is just getting started, there could be a future championship in the path for Bridgewater and the Vikings.

*Jameis Winston

-Despite all the controversies that surrounded him in his college career, the Heisman winner would make a huge mark this year in his rookie season. After a shaky start, the no. 1 draft pick in the 2015 draft has been solid throughout the year, breaking some Bucs records and earning the title of the youngest QB to pass for 3,000 yards. Jameis is still getting started, but he's displayed leadership, toughness and ability to become one of the more consistent QBs going forward. He could lead the Bucs to the playoffs next season if all stars align.

*Russell Wilson 

-Though his height was an initial concern, and he was drafted late in the 3rd round, Russ manages to be one of the most successful quarterbacks through his short career so far. Earning comparisons to Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, Russ has an amazing ability to scramble. He doesn't throw the prettiest pass, but he's effective and can also run, like most black quarterbacks. His rookie season saw him lead the Seahawks to the playoffs, before losing in the Divisional round. His 2nd season saw him lead the Seahawks to the no. 1 seed in the NFC and a Super Bowl victory, making him only the 2nd black quarterback to win. He would have a great year in his 3rd season, once again leading them to a no. 1 seed and the Super Bowl, but he threw a pointless and game losing interception as the Seahawks would lose to the Patriots. This year saw the Seahawks start off terribly, before finally finding their groove again and making the playoffs as a wild card team. In each of his seasons, Russ has led the Seahawks to the playoffs. Two times, he led them to the Super Bowl. For this new era, he might be the best black quarterback of them all. There's only one other who could challenge him for that title.....

*Cam Newton 

-Dab. Cam is a symbol of greatness and toughness. He's had setbacks and overcome them early on in his college career, and ended up winning the Heisman trophy, a national championship in college, and was selected no. 1 in the draft amidst controversy from his father trying to solicit money from other universities to recruit him. Cam was something special and with all the accolades he received, it was no shock that his rookie season with the Panthers was epic. Cam became the first rookie to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season and of course, he won the Rookie of The Year award. In his 3rd season, Cam would lead the Panthers to a 12-4 record and the playoffs, before they took a loss to the 49ers. The following season, he led them to their second straight NFC South Division title and another playoff birth, before they lost to the Seahawks. After agreeing to a 5 year, 103 million dollar contract, Cam proved he was worth every penny this season. Proving his leadership role and being the heart of the solid Panthers team, they started this season 14-0, before suffering their first loss recently to the Falcons. Since the middle of the season, many have said Cam Newton should be the MVP. He's felt like the MVP for most of the season and with him securing the third straight NFC South title for the Panthers and leading them to what looks like the no. 1 seed in the NFC, it is very possible that he could walk away with that MVP trophy this year. He's got my vote. Dab on dem folks, Cam.

This new era of black quarterbacks is exhilarating in many ways. A Russell Wilson and a Cam Newton could be two of the new faces of football as Peyton and Tom seem to be winding down, and there aren't many other headline inducing QBs today. In a few years, Jameis and Bridgewater could become the new faces or the top two if they continue to grow. Could RG3 see a resurgence and stay healthy? Only time will tell. Regardless, the black QBs of today are in prime position to lead the game and inspire the black kids in the high schools and neighborhoods even more so than years past. That's something to be proud of. Instead of "I want to be Peyton, I want to be Tom, I want to be Joe", it could be "I want to be Cam, I want to be Russ, I want to be Jameis". That means a lot for the game of football.



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