Things are actually changing for black quarterbacks in the NFL. When the Philadelphia Eagles took former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday night, it was a step toward equality.
Three of the first five quarterbacks taken in the 2020 NFL Draft were minorities, with Tua Tagovailoa (5th) and Jordan Love (26th) coming off the board on Day 1, with Hurts joining them on Day 2.
Coming into Friday night, the New York Post and MLive.com were wondering if Hurts would land in New England or play for the Lions after he previously met with Detroit General Manager Bob Quinn. While CBS Sports correctly predicted that Hurts would be the next quarterback drafted after Love.
Earlier this week, I wrote about how Hurts’ selection was going to be a linchpin on how effective last season’s “Year Of The Black Quarterback” really was. I was skeptical that the on-field success that Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson experienced would benefit second-tier black quarterbacks, due to how they’ve been treated in the past.
With the Eagles’ selection of Hurts, every minority quarterback that was on the board had been drafted in the first 53 picks besides Virginia’s Bryce Perkins, who is considered a late-round pick at best.
In Philly, Hurts joins a franchise that has a long history of black quarterbacks, as his name will now be next to the likes of Don McPherson, Rodney Peete, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Vince Young.
The Eagles have a thing for mobile quarterbacks that can sling it.
However, the interesting thing about Hurts’ selection to the Eagles will be his potential opportunity to play. During the telecast, analysts were already pondering whether Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson would come up with some type of package to get Hurts on the field. The Eagles, of course, already have a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz, one they signed to a contract extension in 2019 for four years at the price of $137.25 million. But, Wentz has had trouble staying on the field, as he’s had injuries to his ribs, knee, and back since he entered the league in 2016.
The conversation pertaining to black quarterbacks has never been solely about the top guys, or the No. 1 overall picks like Kyler Murray, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and JaMarcus Russell and Vick. It’s about the treatment of the other guys like Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater, Jacoby Brissett, and the late Tarvaris Jackson, that could have made more money, had they been selected higher, and given more opportunities if their skin was a different hue.
“The glass ceiling has been broken,” some said.
“Last year was a game changer,” others wrote and tweeted.
Maybe they were right, and I was wrong.
But what I do know is that true equality won’t be reached in the NFL until black quarterbacks, and coaches, are given ample opportunities to be mediocre at their jobs just like their white counterparts.