The influence of African American quarterbacks

Many of the most prominent faces of the NFL are quarterbacks, and these players have transformed the way people look at the position. Quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Reothlisberger and Matt Ryan have been stars of the league for some time now. 

But there is a new regime poised to take over.  

The regime includes Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. This quarterback group is ridiculously talented and young (Wilson at just 31 is the veteran of the group). These African Americans have changed the way we look at how quarterbacks should play.  The conventional pocket passer with limited mobility is slowly being pushed out of the league, while mobile and athletic play is what scouts and coaches are beginning to look for when evaluating quarterback talent.

Before this NFL season began, many predicted the same, conventional outcome: The Patriots would be hoisting the Lombardi trophy and their opponent in the Super Bowl would be Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Well, that is not how the NFL’s 100th season turned out. Lamar Jackson blew the league out of the water, throwing for 36 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also adding 1,206 yards on the ground with seven touchdowns. Jackson also led the Ravens to the one seed, and unanimously won the MVP award. Russell Wilson led an undermanned Seattle Seahawks team to the playoffs, and nearly carried them to the NFC Championship game. Wilson also finished second in MVP voting in the process. Deshaun Watson was a little up and down this season, but when he performed well, he showed how special of a quarterback he can be.  

Arizona Cardinals’ rookie quarterback Kyler Murray has also changed the perception of the position in a unique way.  Although Murray was doubted by many due to his height (he stands at just 5’7”) and was a former first round pick in the MLB, he was named rookie Offensive Player of the Year.

Then, there is Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, who has already thrown for 76 career touchdown passes and 9,412 yards in his two years as a starter. In his second year in the league and first as a starter, Mahomes finished with 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, leading the Chiefs to the AFC Championship and a pre-snap penalty away from the Super Bowl.  He would go on to win the MVP in a stellar season. This past season he faced adversity with injuries, but he found a way to lead Kansas City to its first title in 50 years and won Super Bowl LIV MVP.  

As for Drew Brees and Tom Brady, they were bounced in the wildcard round.  The torch is being passed.

The success of each of these quarterbacks has made a huge impact on the African American community.  African American quarterbacks have often been stereotyped as flukey players who only have short bursts of success in the league. The success of these current quarterbacks looks to be anything but short lived. Instead, we are witnessing the beginning of legendary careers. 

What is even more special than their play on the field is how these quarterbacks stay humble through the whole process, never taking glory for their success. They always talk about how their coaches and teammates make them great and acknowledge they wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for them. These young men have shown not only just their peers, but society how to become successful through hard work, handle success with humbleness and respect the players who have come before you.

laldpy@mail.umkc.edu

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