The first meeting of two black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl — Patrick Mahomes versus Jalen Hurts — has resonated in a big way with Doug Williams — the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, doing so for Joe Gibbs and the then-Washington Redskins at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on Jan. 31, 1988.
“What a treat, number one,” Williams told The Post on Monday. “For me last night was a humbling experience. It was something that in my mind coulda happened a long time ago if a lot of black guys were allowed to play the position. And to see it come to fruition, it’s like a dream come true, to be honest with you.
“To sit there and realize that there’s gonna be two African-American quarterbacks playing in the Super Bowl whereas two years ago people didn’t think it could happen. And for me, that’s a sight to see.”
Russell Wilson became the second black quarterback to win a Super Bowl (XLVIII) with the Seahawks. Mahomes won Super Bowl LIV and became the second black quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP. Williams (18-for-29 for 340 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT in a 42-10 rout of the Broncos) was the first.
“Patrick Mahomes does it all,” Williams said. “There is nothing that he hasn’t done and can’t do — arm talent, he can twist his arm in 10 different ways to get the ball out of his hand. That’s not an everyday or every-year talent that comes out of college. Let’s be honest — the average guy would not have played last night. And that’s a lot to be said. It reminds me of [Rams DE] Jack Youngblood — he played [Super Bowl XIV] with a hairline [left fibula] fracture. Guys don’t play today like that. That last play when he took off and started running, he took off like he forgot he had an injury. He was trying to will his team to victory. You gotta take your hat off to him.”
Williams, now a senior adviser with the Commanders, texted Hurts on Sunday night.
“I remember during the years at Alabama, he was more of a runner than he was a passer,” Williams said. “His release has gotten so much better, and I think what it’s done is made him more of a dangerous guy. Because if you’ve ever been up close to him you realize he’s built like a running back. He’s built like Earl Campbell by his thighs in that area. But the fact that he can stay in the pocket and get the ball out of his hand … you can’t say enough about it, and he’s done it all year.”
He recalled Hurts being benched in the second half for Tua Tagovailoa when Alabama defeated Georgia in the 2018 national championship game.
“He handled it with grace,” Williams said.
Williams, 67, chuckled when asked what he remembered about the start of his Super Bowl week.
“How many people wanted to talk to me about being black,” he said. “And I refused to do interviews during that time. I didn’t want to get caught up in it. That wasn’t important. The most important thing was getting ready to play Denver [and John Elway]. And my thing was after the game, they can paint me whatever color they wanted to. Like I told the PR guy that was here at the time, the only interviews I want to do is what the NFL had us on docket to do. Other than that, I didn’t want to do no interviews, ’cause I would have had to answer that question 110 times, and that wasn’t important.
“That’s a question that doesn’t have to be answered anymore: Could a black quarterback lead a team?
“It kinda reminds me of when Lovie Smith [Bears] and Tony Dungy [Colts] coached in the Super Bowl [XLI]. Now to see two black quarterbacks play in the Super Bowl, to me I think we’ve answered a lot of questions that needed to be answered years ago.”
Williams grew up in Zachary, La., the sixth of eight children. Legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson offered him a scholarship in 1973. The Bucs drafted him in the first round in 1978 and a year later, Williams and Bears quarterback Vince Evans made history as the first black quarterbacks to start a game against each other. Williams sat out the 1983 season over an insulting salary offer and felt compelled to join the Oklahoma Outlaws of the USFL before Gibbs lured him back to the NFL.
“I grew up in the South, right? I understood what we were up against as a black man,” Williams said.
He mentions the obstacles faced by black quarterbacks James (Shack) Harris and Joe Gilliam and John Walton and David Mays and Marlon Briscoe and says, “It was just a matter of trying for me to get an opportunity to play. Being around Coach Robinson, one thing he always told me was the fact that the bottom line, all you need is an opportunity, and that’s all I asked for.”
There are 10 starting black quarterbacks in the NFL today if you count Jameis Winston (Saints), 11 if you count Desmond Ridder (Falcons) as those teams’ starters.
“To be honest with you, what they were saying probably about black quarterbacks, is the same thing that most of these owners say about these [head] coaches today,” Williams said. “You look around this league, man, how many bad coaches they recycle. The black coaches are getting the same shaft that I was getting back then and the black quarterbacks before me were getting.”
There are somehow only two black NFL head coaches — Mike Tomlin (Steelers) and Todd Bowles (Bucs).
“Hopefully, and this is my take on this whole thing in the National Football League, in the next five-10 years, half of the quarterbacks in this league are gonna be black, if they keep going the way they’re going,” Williams said. “We got two [Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud] coming in [at the top of the draft]. And the guys that we have are still pretty young right now.”
Williams was 32 the night he won the Super Bowl. He would retire two years later after the 1989 season.
“After the Super Bowl, you know what my thinking really was?” Williams said. “Yesterday didn’t matter, tomorrow don’t matter. It was all about what had just transpired. And whether I played again or not it wouldn’t have mattered to me.
“It was a matter of a black man getting a chance to grace the field at the Super Bowl and come out as a winner.”
He mentions Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton.
“You got guys that have been to the Super Bowl multiple times and never won it,” Williams said.
He mentions Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Fouts and Warren Moon never getting a Super Bowl chance.
“I got that chance,” Williams said.
Now Jalen Hurts gets that chance. And Patrick Mahomes gets his third chance. His first chance against another black quarterback. A historic treat for Doug Williams. And for so many others.