NFL: We are Entering the “Age of the Black Quarterback”

The NFL has been predominantly African-American for quite some time now. Currently, over 69% of all players in the league are black and/or mixed race. For the most part, African-American football players have excelled and been highlighted at just about every position on the field. That is, except at the quarterback position. Although there have been a few outliers over the years, there hasn’t been a period where multiple black quarterbacks were playing at such a high level at the same time. That is until now. It’s safe to say we are entering the age of the black quarterback.

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There are currently ten black starting quarterbacks in the league at the moment. Cam Newton would make 11 however he is currently hurt. This is the most amount of starting quarterbacks at any point in a season. It’s not so much that black quarterbacks are starting but they’re also thriving in the league. If you listed the top five quarterbacks in the league right now there would be at least three black QBs on that list with the best one being Patrick Mahomes.

Looking at the statistical categories you’ll notice the level of play at which these guys are playing at. Three black QBs are top five in pass completions and two are top five in passing yards. All five league leaders in touchdowns thrown so far this season are black QBs. In terms of passer rating and QBR, four black quarterbacks are top five in both categories.

Sep 29, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) attempts a pass during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What’s interesting is that there are familiar faces amongst this group as well as some less than familiar ones. Who would have thought guys like Jacoby Brissett and Lamar Jackson would be tied for second in touchdowns? Both guys came into this season with a lot more questions than answers surrounding them. For Brissett, it was how would he fare in replacing Andrew Luck who unexpectedly retired just a week before the season started? And for Jackson, it was to prove the doubters wrong that he isn’t just a runner. Kyler Murray is a name that has popped up in the top five of one of the categories too (pass completions). Although he hasn’t had any winning success so far, it’ll be interesting to see him progress as the season goes on.

Of course, you have more consistent names among the top five. Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, and Russell Wilson. Prescott has caught the attention of many as this appears to be his breakout year. It couldn’t have come at a better time too. Prescott is looking for a big contract extension and so far his play has warranted it. Maybe not in the same range as a Russell Wilson, however, Prescott’s play early on this season cannot go unnoticed.

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Patrick Mahomes is playing at a level this season where you might as well give him the MVP now. Coming off of his superb MVP season last year, Mahomes looks to be building off of it which doesn’t even seem possible. And not to be forgotten is Russell Wilson who is arguably one of the most underrated QBs in the league. A Super Bowl champion and multi-time Pro-Bowler, Wilson proves year in and year out just how valuable he is to his team. It’s not too crazy to consider him a legitimate candidate to dethrone Mahomes for MVP. Both guys have also thrown 0 interceptions so far through five weeks of the season.

Oct 3, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Some other black quarterbacks who are having success so far include the likes of Deshaun Watson, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jameis Winston. For Watson, his only problem is staying healthy. He’s had to deal with injuries early on in his career which can be credited to poor offensive line play. Teddy Bridgewater has done a pretty serviceable job acting as the replacement for Drew Brees while he recovers from his thumb injury. So far the Saints are 2-0 under Bridgewater.

Surprisingly Jameis Winston may have found new life under Head Coach Bruce Arians. Winston is top 10 in passing yards, touchdowns and even led the Buccaneers to an upset win over the Rams. Winston is a missed field goal away from having the Bucs at 3-1 on the year.

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The success of black quarterbacks isn’t limited to the NFL. You’re seeing the success at the college level as well. However, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Every year there are a plethora of black college QBs that shine at the collegiate level but are then switched to running back or wide receiver when they come in the league. Currently, some of the best quarterbacks in college are black. Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagavailoa are three of the best in college right now.

The stigma surrounding black quarterbacks is slowly going away. One can no longer label them as just running QBs anymore. As the older generation of quarterbacks starts to phase out you’ll see more and more African-American quarterbacks starting on Sunday afternoons. At a position that has been primarily dominated by white quarterbacks, it’s refreshing seeing black quarterbacks not only starting but thriving at the position.

How do you feel about the progression of the quarterback position? Leave a comment below.

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