By Todd A. Smith
Many African Americans can tell you where they were in 1988 when Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins became the first African American Super Bowl quarterback. Sure, we did not experience the same euphoria that we did in Washington, D.C. 20 years later when Barack Obama was elected as the first African America president, but we were definitely euphoric nonetheless.
However, in 2010 we are still waiting for the second African American Super Bowl quarterback.
After watching his exploits on the field this season, I am confidently predicting that Michael Vick of the Eagles will be the second African American Super Bowl quarterback and he will win the championship at Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas in February.
We were riveted by performances from the late Steve McNair of the Tennessee Titans and former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb on the big stage, but both came up short of making history. Furthermore, we even watched Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin become the first two African American coaches to win championship rings in recent years, but it is time for another African American quarterback to achieve what Williams did.
Wait one moment. I know you are skeptical. You probably are marveling about the exploits of Matt Ryan and Vick’s former team the Atlanta Falcons or you might even be a fan of outspoken coach Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. But the similarities between Williams’ Super Bowl run and Vick’s 2010 season are too obvious to ignore. And maybe, just maybe, a Super Bowl win might be meant to be for the convicted felon who many believe did not deserve a second chance.
Williams began the 1987 season as Jay Schroeder’s backup much like Vick began the season as Kevin Kolb’s backup in Philly. After Schroeder injured his shoulder in the first game against the Eagles, Williams replaced him, throwing for 272 yards and two touchdowns in a week one victory. Kolb suffered a concussion in the Eagles’ first game this season against the Green Bay Packers and Vick entered the game and almost rallied the team to a victory, passing for 175 yards and one touchdown and rushing for 103 yards.
Both Williams and Vick started the next game. Vick continued his excellence until an injury sidelined him after week four, while Williams was sidelined by the NFL work stoppage of 1987. After Schroeder and Kolb regained their starting position, it was rumored that their African American counterparts enjoyed the most respect from their teammates in the locker room, who wanted them to return as the leader of the team.
Eventually, Williams regained his position after Schroeder was benched and his success continued in the postseason, becoming the first African American Super Bowl quarterback. Vick took over the Philadelphia offense once again in a week nine win over the Indianapolis Colts and has continued to play like a MVP and a Super Bowl quarterback.
While no one at Regal Magazine condones Vick’s abhorrent behavior that led him to prison on dog fighting charges, not even the critics can doubt his raw talent and possible redemption. And because of that, 20 years from now, many in the African American community will again be recalling where they were when they witnessed the second African American Super Bowl quarterback.
Hopefully I’ll be at Cowboys Stadium witnessing history unfold.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.