What are the best performances by Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl? We rank them

What are the best performances by Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl? We rank them

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Patrick Mahomes
Photo: Getty Images

There have only been seven Black quarterbacks to play in a Super Bowl. That stat could be surprising to some considering the NFL has been majority Black for decades.

But truth be told, Black quarterbacks have had to endure countless racial stereotypes that have prohibited them from playing the position freely. For decades, many scouts and executives have criticized their intelligence, their leadership ability, and their ability to throw the football.

False and racist stereotypes have diminished opportunities for young Black men to lead teams from playing behind center in the NFL. This is why seeing Patrick Mahomes, a Black quarterback, starting his second Super Bowl on February 7, means so much more to Black NFL fans.

The impact these seven have had on the game is hard to quantify. They’ve had to fight through so much just to get to the biggest stage. So, in honor of Black History Month, let’s rank the performances of some of these greats.

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2 / 10

8. Cam Newton - Super Bowl 50

8. Cam Newton - Super Bowl 50

Illustration for article titled What are the best performances by Black quarterbacks in the Super Bowl? We rank them
Photo: Getty Images

Newton won the 2015 MVP award after becoming one of the most unstoppable forces that the league had seen up until that point. He was poised to lead the Panthers to a win in Super Bowl 50 until he ran into Von Miller and the very talented Denver Broncos defense that sacked him six times. Newton would finish the game 18-for-41 for 265 yards and an interception. He also rushed six times for 45 yards in the game. Many say that Newton’s performance in the game was disappointing and he will forever be criticized for not falling on a critical fumble that could have given his team a chance. Newton and the Panthers lost the game 24-10.

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3 / 10

7. Donovan McNabb - Super Bowl XXXIX

7. Donovan McNabb - Super Bowl XXXIX

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Photo: Getty Images

McNabb was the leader of a crazy-talented Philadelphia Eagles team that had Hall of Famer Terrell Owens at receiver, who played the game on a still-broken leg, and Brian Westbrook in the backfield. The Eagles played the New England Patriots and a Bill Belichick led defense that forced McNabb into a few costly turnovers. McNabb would finish the game 30-for-51 with 357 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. The Patriots defense also sacked him four times. The Eagles lost the game 24-21.

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4 / 10

6. Steve McNair - Super Bowl XXXIV

6. Steve McNair - Super Bowl XXXIV

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McNair led the Tennessee Titans to a Super Bowl appearance in 2000 following a stellar 1999 season. But Kurt Warner and the Rams’ Great Show on Turf stood in the way of McNair capturing a Super Bowl. McNair was solid on the day completing 22-of-36 passes for 214 yards, and rushed eight times for 64 yards. McNair led the Titans on the famous last-second drive that was stopped one-yard short after Mike Jones tackled Kevin Dyson on a short pass play that ended the Titans’ final bid just shy of the goal line. McNair and the Titans lost 23-16.

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5 / 10

5. Colin Kaepernick - Super Bowl XLVII

5. Colin Kaepernick - Super Bowl XLVII

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Kaepernick started for the 49ers in one of the most entertaining Super Bowl games in the last twenty seasons. San Francisco was on a tear after Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith earlier in the season and they were tasked with the challenge of taking on Hall of Famers Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and the Baltimore Ravens. The game was so wild that many of the lights in the Mercedes Benz Superdome went out and caused a delay of more than 30 minutes. Many say that the power outage gave Kaepernick and company time to regroup after trailing by 22 points. Behind Kaepernick’s running and throwing ability the Niners would make a ferocious comeback and had a chance to take the lead in the red zone with less than two minutes remaining. Yet, the Ravens defense held and San Francisco would lose 34-31. Kaepernick finished the game 16-for-28 with 302 yards, a touchdown pass, and an interception. He also ran for 62 yards and another score. Later in his career, Kaepernick would be blackballed from the NFL for his peaceful protest against police brutality. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2016.

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6 / 10

4. Patrick Mahomes - Super Bowl LIV

4. Patrick Mahomes - Super Bowl LIV

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After a spectacular season with Kansas City, Mahomes and the Chiefs took on a stellar San Francisco 49ers defense in Super Bowl LIV. In his first Super Bowl appearance, Mahomes passed for 286 yards and completed 26 out of his 42 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions, plus the opening TD he scored on the ground. It was a very vanilla game for the star quarterback, but he did lead his team to a win after being down double digits in the second half. Mahomes would later be named the Super Bowl MVP following the 31-20 victory.

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7 / 10

3. Russell Wilson - Super Bowl XLIX

3. Russell Wilson - Super Bowl XLIX

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In Super Bowl XLIX, The Seahawks were returning to their second straight Super Bowl to face off against the New England Patriots who were no strangers to the game’s biggest stage. Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and the Legion of Boom were set to take on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Wilson was above average throughout the contest. He only completed 12 passes but threw for nearly 250 yards and had two touchdowns. He also would finish the game with a passer rating of 110.6. Despite Wilson’s performance, this game will always be remembered for the game-ending interception Wilson threw at the goal line to Malcolm Butler of the Patriots, a costly decision especially considering Marshawn Lynch was an easy option. There have been many criticisms of Seattle head coach Pete Carroll for not giving the ball to Lynch in that moment. The Seahawks haven’t been back to a Super Bowl since that play.

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8 / 10

2. Russell Wilson - Super Bowl XLVIII

2. Russell Wilson - Super Bowl XLVIII

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Photo: Getty Images

Wilson and the Seahawks smacked league MVP Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Wilson was stellar in his first Super Bowl start but the story of the day was how the “Legion of Boom” suffocated the high-powered Denver offense led by Manning. Wilson capitalized on many opportunities that the Seattle defense provided him and showed why he would later become a future MVP candidate in the league. Wilson completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished the game with a passer rating of 123.1. The Seahawks crushed the Broncos 43-8.

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9 / 10

1. Doug Williams - Super Bowl XXII

1. Doug Williams - Super Bowl XXII

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Williams was the first Black quarterback to start a Super Bowl game when Washington took on Denver in Super Bowl XXII. After an outstanding performance from Williams, he became the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl as a starter and was named Super Bowl MVP. After trailing Denver 10-0 in the first quarter, a quarter that saw Williams leave the game after falling to ground untouched and grimacing in pain while attempting to plant his back leg, Williams exploded in the second, producing the greatest frame in Super Bowl history, putting the game away before halftime. Washington scored five touchdowns in the second quarter, four of them on William’s arm, including an 80-yard bomb and a 50-yarder to receiver Ricky Sanders. Williams finished the day 18-of-29 with 340 yards and those four touchdown passes. He threw only one interception and had a passer rating of 127.9. To this day, it is arguably the greatest performance by any quarterback in a Super Bowl game. Williams’ brilliance on that day in late January was instrumental in debunking racist stereotypes about Black men.

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10 / 10