For Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to start and win the Super Bowl, watching the NFL Conference Championship games on Sunday was an emotional moment.
Almost exactly 35 years after winning the Super Bowl with the then Washington Redskins, Williams watched with joy as Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts lead the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles to this year’s big game.
Now, for the first time in history, two black quarterbacks will face off in a Super Bowl when the Chiefs and Eagles meet at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12.
“It was really gratifying for me,” Williams told CNN Sport, “to see this happen today and know that we’ve come a long way and we still have a long way to go.”
If the Eagles triumphed in Super Bowl LVII, then Hurts would become the fourth black quarterback to win an NFL championship after Williams in 1988, Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 and Mahomes, who could be the first quarterback black to win several titles, in 2020.
The best photos from the 2022 NFL season
Hurts has already made history after passing Cam Newton for the fastest touchdowns in a single season in the Eagles’ NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49ers, while Mahomes overcame an ankle injury to throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals.
There is hope that their actions on the ground can inspire generations to come.
“I know these guys are going to be fired up and ready to play,” Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields told CNN.
“But it’s definitely a big moment for a lot of young black QBs coming in and inspiring them and maybe they’re like, ‘That could be me someday. “”
Growing up, Fields was inspired by fellow black quarterback Newton, so much so that he’s worn the former Carolina Panthers star’s iconic No. 1 jersey since eighth grade.
But the 23-year-old recognizes how much his contemporaries are also helping to evolve the quarterback position.
“Jalen and Patrick, they can do a lot of great things on the pitch in terms of getting the ball going and being able to extend play with their feet,” Fields says.
“It’s just awesome – to have the first Super Bowl [with] two black quarterbacks is definitely a historic moment for sure.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who also spent 14 years with the Eagles, said he was more focused on players like Mahomes and Hurts being “really good” rather than “what color are you”.
“As we move forward, you’ll never have to ask yourself a question like this again,” he said.
“I get why you ask, absolutely, but it’s a tribute to the kids, both of them are phenomenal players. I’m happy for both of them.”