Sunday was a huge day for Russell Wilson. His team, the Seattle Seahawks, knocked off the 49ers on the road, 28-21, avoiding the distinction of worst record in the highly contested NFC West. Wilson’s name, meanwhile, was solidified in the record books in a way once thought impossible for a man who looks like him.
Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Dan Marino, Matt Ryan, Jim Kelly, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning — all white men — are looking up at Wilson as he sits atop the list as the fastest quarterbacks in NFL history to win 100 regular-season games, as the Seahawks captain did it four games into his 10th season.
“I think that’s my 100th regular-season win, what a blessing man,” he said in a video he posted to social media. “Man, gotta keep going. Just getting started.” Wilson was 16-for-23 for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Niners, and added a score on the ground along with a QBR of 66.9.
“I’m excited about the next hundred,” he stated. “There’s more championships. There’s more things we want to do.”
Wilson’s accomplishment surely put a smile on the face of Marlin Briscoe, who became the first Black quarterback to start in the AFL when his Denver Broncos faced the Cincinnati Bengals in the fall of 1968. Denver won that game, 10-7.
“It’s just so many different historic things that happened in the year 1968, it was unfathomable,” Briscoe told the Associated Press in 2018. “It just seemed poetic justice, so to speak, that the color barrier be broken that year at that position. For some reason, I was ordained to be the litmus test for that. I think I did a good job.”
Last season, another color barrier was broken when 10 Black quarterbacks started on Week 1 — Cam Newton, Teddy Bridgewater, Dwayne Haskins, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Tyrod Taylor, Deshaun Watson, and Wilson all lined up under center for their franchises. On Sunday, nine Black starters were on the field, representing the Bears, Cowboys, Dolphins, Saints, Chiefs, Eagles, Cardinals, Ravens, and Seahawks.
“When I came in the NFL there weren’t that many starting Black quarterbacks in the NFL,” Wilson explained in an interview earlier this year. “There were only a couple of us, and I think over time, over the past nine years of my career I think, too, with the success I was fortunate to be able to have early on to be able to [play in Super Bowls], the game has changed for this position. I honor that. I celebrate that. It’s been such a blessing to see.”
From Briscoe being the first Black quarterback to start a game to Doug Williams being the first to win a Super Bowl — and Super Bowl MVP — to Michael Vick being the first to be drafted No. 1 overall, what Wilson did on Sunday puts him on the Mt. Rushmore of historic marks for Black quarterbacks.
But the best part of it all is that it’s not a national headline. This means that the sight of Black men thriving at a position that they were once forbidden to play is becoming so commonplace that people are accepting their success as the rule and not the exception to it.