Russell Wilson Ditched as Washington Commanders Legend Named the Real Trailblazer for Black QBs Such as Patrick Mahomes

Published 04/12/2024, 2:57 PM EDT

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Does Russell Wilson consider himself a key name in black QB history? Yes! Thus, in a recent interview with ‘Essence’, he opined, “For me to be able to go to back-to-back Super Bowls, and win one of them, I think opened up a lot of doors.” After Doug Williams, Russell Wilson was the second black QB to win a Super Bowl. But it seems not everyone agrees with Wilson’s opinion. When Shannon Sharpe heard Wilson’s statements, he brought up names like Doug Williams, Shack Harris, Joe Gilliam, and Steve McNair. Did they not open any doors?

Well, Wilson’s statements have some more critics. In a thought-provoking episode of ‘The Odd Couple’ on ‘Fox Sports Radio‘, hosts Rob Parker and Chris Broussard explored the legacy of Black quarterbacks. Their discussion brought a nuanced shift in perspective, challenging the notion of who genuinely laid the groundwork for current stars like Patrick Mahomes. “Like before, there weren’t going to have a black quarterback in the game. It had to be some super super-human athlete like Michael Vick. You know, to get a shot or just a straight drop. I mean Doug Williams had a cannon. You know, they just couldn’t deny him, you know, the right to play,” Chris Broussard said. And Rob Parker agreed.

“And obviously you had a Warren Moon but yeah I think that was progress in that obviously Russell Wilson was great but he was a kind of a game manager which was some progress in the perception of black quarterbacks but yeah, I don’t it’s nothing. I don’t think negatively of him. … You don’t think of him as a trailblazer for black quarterbacks.”

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Thus, they challenged the notion of Wilson’s pioneering status. The hosts fondly recalled the historic Super Bowl, where Williams, who played for the Washington Commanders, not only broke racial barriers but also captured the MVP award. But let’s also not forget Warren Moon. He was the first black quarterback who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Before the NFL, Moon played in the CFL and is a part of their Hall of Fame. So that makes him the first HOF inductee in both leagues.

Like Williams and Moon, Michael Vick was electrifying. For Vick, just looking at records and numbers might not do justice. His pace-and-space style is something people remember even today. Though he may not have been the best passing QB, he became the face for mobile QBs. Below are some additional names that successfully paved the path for black QBs. Some of them may not have a Super Bowl appearance on their resume, but their contributions were a stepping-stone toward the future.

Lamar JacksonIn 2019, Jackson became the second player (after Tom Brady) to win an NFL MVP through unanimous voting.
Cam NewtonThe three-time Pro Bowler and NFL MVP (2015) carried the Carolina Panthers’ exhausted offense to a 15-1 season and a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.
Steve McNairThree-time Pro Bowl selection, Most Valuable Player (2003) and second-team All-Pro (2003).
Donovan McNabb37,276 passing yards, 3,459 rushing yards, 263 total touchdowns (234 passing). Statistically, he can be considered one of the best QBs ever for the Eagles.

However, can we completely sideline Russell Wilson? Yes, his time in the Denver Broncos was disappointing. But as a nine-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, he has done his part. But what does former NFL player Shannon Sharpe think about Wilson?


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Shannon Sharpe doesn’t agree with Russell Wilson!


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After Sharpe learned about Russell Wilson’s “opened up a lot of doors” comment, he immediately had his thoughts ready. “So what role did Doug Williams play? The first African-American quarterback to actually get to and win the Super Bowl and win MVP. So what about Shack Harris? What about Joe Gilliam? So what did Marlin Briscoe do? Jack Harry? Steve McNair? They opened no doors? Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick? So they opened no doors. It was you?”

What rubbed Sharpe the wrong way was that Russell Wilson said “I”, as in ‘he’ was responsible for opening doors. He would have preferred if the QB said he was a part of many black QBs opening doors for the current set of black QBs like Patrick Mahomes. However, how correct is this assessment from Shannon Sharpe? Because Russell Wilson did mention Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick.


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While this debate can go on, did you know 2023 was an important year for black quarterbacks? At Super Bowl LVII, two black quarterbacks- Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts- lead their respective teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles with the aim of winning the Lombardi trophy. It was the first time two black starting quarterbacks were seen together at the Super Bowl. This battle ended with KCC winning, 38-35, and that’s how Patrick Mahomes won his second Super Bowl!


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So far, Doug Williams, Russell Wilson- when he led the Seahawks against the Broncos, 26 years after Williams, and Patrick Mahomes are the only three black QBs who won the Super Bowl. Also, Mahomes is the first black QB to win multiple Super Bowls. Quarterbacks like Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick, and Cam Newton fell short.

Read More: Russell Wilson & Ciara Make American Rapper Go Bullish on Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl Hopes


Written by:

Jakso James


One take at a time

Jakso James is an NFL Writer at EssentiallySports. Jakso’s analysis takes a reader around the league with a look at the player strategies and stats. An ardent football lover himself, he developed a strong connection with the Denver Broncos as he witnessed Russell Wilson break the barriers.
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Edited by:

Garima Yadav