Thursday, October 29, 2020

A NFL Week 1 that would make Marlin Briscoe smile.

September 25, 2020 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( The most unusual Week 1 in NFL history just happened. NFL games were played without fans in most stadiums, referees and other people on the football field were wearing masks to protect from coronavirus, and the Black National Anthem was played in NFL stadiums prior to the start of NFL games. Besides the return of football, there has been a lot of focus on the NFL’s social justice messaging and actions. The effectiveness of the NFL’s social justice actions deserves significant evaluation but there were a few notable Black-orientated stories regarding the NFL’s first week of play during the 2020 season.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, a NFL legend, decided to pay homage to another NFL legend, Fritz Pollard, the NFL’s first Black head coach. Belichick wore a patch bearing Pollard’s name during the Patriots’ first game of the season. He wore the patch “to recognize Fritz Pollard for all he’s done and what now continues as an award that’s given out and recognition that’s given out for people that have done things along the lines of what he represented and what he worked so hard for.” Belichick’s starting quarterback for that game, Cam Newton, was part of some significant history that would make former football player Marlin Briscoe happy. Newton was one of ten starting NFL Black quarterbacks during Week 1 of the NFL season, which is an NFL record.

black nfl qbs

Too many people are not aware that Marlin Briscoe became the first Black starting quarterback in professional American football history in 1968. Briscoe started at quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 1968 after shifting him to the cornerback position from quarterback as a college player. Regardless of their success as Black quarterbacks in college, Black college football players did not get the opportunity to play quarterback professionally due to racism and racial stereotypes regarding intelligence, leadership, and comprehension. Briscoe set a Broncos rookie record for touchdown passes and his early success broke down the door for future Black quarterbacks that has opened up even wider today. The successes of Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson are part of this golden age of Black quarterbacks.

The ten Black starting NFL quarterbacks starting the season who made history represent almost a third of the starting quarterbacks in the entire NFL. Those ten quarterbacks had seven wins and three losses during that first game, which is even more impressive considering one of the few losses happened at the hand of Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City team defeating Deshaun Watson’s Houston team. Playing the quarterback position comes with both incredible praise when it is done well and intense scrutiny when it is not. Quarterback is the hardest position in all of sports and there is a reason why NFL quarterbacks make more money than any other position in the NFL.

Impressively, the top three quarterbacks in terms of average made per year on their contracts are Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson, who are Black quarterbacks. Each of those men are regarded as leaders and high character individuals who are also becoming vocal regarding racial injustice. As the careers of longtime faces of the QB position, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, wind down, the present and future of the NFL quarterback position looks bright for Black men and their success will inspire even more talent in the pipeline.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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