Hurts vs. Mahomes: A Historic Game

Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes will make history on Sunday in the first Super Bowl game with two Black starting quarterbacks.


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Composite image of Jalen Hurts (left) and Patrick Mahomes (right)

Raven Roberts, Staff Writer

This year marks the first time in its 57-year history that the Super Bowl features two Black starting quarterbacks — Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes.

Only three Black quarterbacks have led their team to victory before- Doug Williams, Russell Wilson, and Mahomes.

On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will face off at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona in Super Bowl 57.

Both teams finished the season 14-3 and as the one-seeds in their respective conferences. However, the Eagles are two-point favorites over the Chiefs. No matter the outcome, this game will be historic.

If Philadelphia wins, Hurts will be the fourth Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl. If Kansas City pulls off the victory, Mahomes will be the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl twice, following his 2020 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Hurts was a four-star recruit in high school before committing to college football powerhouse, The University of Alabama. As a true freshman, Hurts broke the single-season quarterback rushing record at Alabama with 954 yards, solidifying himself as a dual threat. 

Hurts later battled against Tua Tagovailoa for a starting spot before transferring to The University of Oklahoma for his final year. He led the Sooners to the playoffs, before losing to LSU (63-28) and was named a Heisman Trophy finalist.

In 2020, Hurts was drafted in the second round as the 53rd overall pick by Philadelphia, where he led the league in both rushing yards and touchdowns in 2021, his second season. This year, Hurts finished with a starting record of 14-1, with 3,701 passing yards, 760 rushing yards, and 35 total touchdowns.

Mahomes, Texas native, attended Texas Tech, playing both baseball and football until deciding to focus on football his junior year. As a junior, Mahomes led the NCAA Division 1 FBS in passing yards and total touchdowns before being drafted 10th overall by Kansas City.

In just his sixth year, Mahomes is a highly decorated quarterback. He was selected for the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro and won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and NFL Most Valuable Player awards in his first year as a starter. 

This will be his third Super Bowl appearance, following his victory against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54 and loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55.

Mahomes is one of four black quarterbacks to win the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award. Both Hurts and Mahomes were named MVP finalists this year, but Mahomes was named MVP on Thursday.

“It’s great to see that we’ve come a long way,” Morgan State University quarterback Malcolm Brown said about the big game.

Brown said he feels he’s been “overlooked in some situations” as a Black quarterback playing in the predominately white position. “Coming here has helped me become more confident in my abilities…by being surrounded by other guys that look like me and being a part of a culture of Black excellence,” he said. 

The NFL has been unfair and unforgiving to Black quarterbacks because of racial stacking, or racial segregation by position. Many Black quarterbacks have been passed over, forced to change positions, or otherwise left behind because the position was (and is) considered a “thinking position.”

In 1968, Eldridge Dickey made history by becoming the first Black quarterback drafted in the first round when he was picked 25th overall by the Oakland Raiders. However, Oakland drafted a white quarterback in the second round and asked Dickey to change positions, saying he wouldn’t be needed as a passer yet.

Dickey had an extraordinary college career at Tennessee State University, however, he never took another snap at quarterback. 

Dickey is just one lesser-known example of a widely-known phenomenon that ruined the careers of dozens of Black passers before they even began. Even Marlin Briscoe, the first Black quarterback to start in the NFL, was forced out of his position without explanation after his first season, despite breaking the Broncos rookie quarterback record.

It wasn’t until many years later that Doug Williams became the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl in 1988 when he conquered the Denver Broncos 42-10.

Williams was drafted in 1978 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he played until 1982 and experienced racism as the only Black quarterback in the league. Williams was paid a measly $120,000 a year on the Buccaneers, the lowest of any starting quarterback, and less than 12 backups.

The NFL has since shown progress regarding Black quarterbacks on several fronts. For example, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, and Mahomes are all among the highest paid in the league. 

However, they as well as other Black passers often face harsher critiques than their counterparts. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is often told he’d be better as a running back because of his play style, a suggestion not often made toward his white peers.

Since William’s victory, only two other Black quarterbacks, Russell Wilson (2014) and Mahomes (2020), have joined him in winning the Super Bowl, although four others have started in the legendary game.    

On Wednesday, Hurts and Mahomes each described the significance of the matchup and thanked Williams and others for paving the way.

It’s going to be a special game and a special moment for a lot of kids to watch as they grow up and try to assume [the] role we’re trying to set the example for” Mahomes said.