Uplifting an entire race – Doug Williams

Uplifting an entire race – Doug Williams

On January 31, 1988, in San Diego, California, Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins becomes the first African-American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, scoring four of Washington’s five touchdowns in an upset 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.


He was already a star quarterback at Grambling State University. After a stellar career at Grambling, Williams also was the first African-American quarterback to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft post-merger.


The day before the Super Bowl, he had an emergency root canal that left him in pain and on the Redskins first offensive series —shortly into the 1st quarter already trailing Denver 10-0, he slipped, wrenched his knee and lay immobile on the turf for several seconds, Doug Williams said “It was a little pain, but with an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl, if you can’t play with a little pain . . . , The most important thing was, I got up.”


Williams returned to the game and the Redskins began to destroy the Denver defense, scoring 35 points in the quarter, the most points ever for a single postseason quarter in National Football League (NFL) history. His four touchdowns in the first half tied the Super Bowl then-record for most touchdowns thrown in an entire game.


It remains a glorious moment for a generation of black quarterbacks who followed, Williams’s four-touchdown MVP performance opened doors — amounting to a powerful rejection of the tricky notion that exceptional African American athletes were ill-equipped for the complexity and leadership demands of being an NFL quarterback.


Rodney Peete then-college junior footballer said “It was a sight to see; truly amazing, It didn’t have quite the global impact of Jesse Owens going to Berlin and winning the [1936] Olympics, but it was something that was so powerful — something that a lot of people running these [NFL] organizations didn’t believe could happen.


“I knew it was history-making, But for me, I couldn’t look at it that way. Everybody else was making a big deal out of it, but I had to look at it as ‘What is best for the Washington Redskins?’ ”

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