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Super Bowl 57 makes history featuring two Black quarterbacks, GVSU historian weighs in


WGVU talks with Dr. Louis Moore, a professor and historian at Grand Valley State University about the historic Super Bowl matchup of Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) and Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles).

Regardless of Sunday’s Super Bowl outcome, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles will go down in history. For the first time since the Super Bowls’ onset in 1967, both starting quarterbacks are Black.

WGVU spoke with Dr. Louis Moore, a Grand Valley State University professor and historian about this feat.

“I think its huge, because black quarterbacks for so long have been kept out of the position," he said. "...It’s the guy who is the face of the franchise, and historically in America people don’t look at Black men and say 'That guy is smart. That guy’s a great leader.'”

Moore specializes on the intersection between race and sports, having authored books like "I Fight for a Living: Boxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915" and "We Will Win the Day: The Civil Rights Movement, the Black Athlete, and the Quest for Equality." He is currently working on a third book exploring the history of Black quarterbacks and their experiences with coaches, stereotypes, rigid offensive schemes and more.

When asked why America hasn't seen two Black quarterbacks face off in the Super Bowl until now, Moore said there are multiple ways to tackle the topic, but historically it came down to perception and the opportunity to carry the QB position. He explained, the National Football League (NFL) would often see African American athletes for their physical ability but overlooked the potential of the player as a whole.

“So when the first super bowl happens, there are no Black quarterbacks in the league. If you had played quarterback, and certainly there are a number of Black quarterbacks in college because there are HBCU’s (Historically Black College and University), they get switched," he explained.

In current times, data shows athletes of color make up around 70% of NFL players, and ESPN reported in 2020 a record number of 10 Black quarterbacks started during the season opener. However, the league has continued to be criticized for a lack of diversity in its coaching staff, and Moore said players can still face stereotypes.

"It takes a long time to develop an NFL quarterback and a lot of teams are impatient and that (switching Black QB's positions) still happens. If you have someone that you think is a runner, you’re going to say I'm not going to give him time. I'm going to put him in a different position. Make him play cornerback. Make him play receiver," Moore explained.

When asked if the rise of Mahomes and Hurts, along with other history-making Black QB's like Doug Williams, would move the needle forward, Moore said he's hopeful.

"Seeing the success this Sunday of a Jalen Hurts is going to have a tremendous impact down the line, because Hurts is one of those guys who they thought was only a runner. And now all of a sudden, he’s able to lead his team to a Super Bowl. I think you’ll see more NFL teams taking a chance on those types of guys," Moore said.

Mahomes and Hurts will face off as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Philadelphia eagles for the Super Bowl title on Sunday, February 12.

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