Today marks the 20th Anniversary of Doug Williams successfully leading the Washington Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII. In the process Williams became the first Black quarterback to do so.
I’ve asked a few friends of mine to recall that day and relive what was truly one of the great events in sports history.
I am also extending this invitation to you – TSF readers to share your thoughts as well.
One of the questions asked was where were you, how did it make you feel and how have things changed for the Black quarterback in the last 20 years?
Anthony Gilbert – Starting Five Writer
I felt a sense of pride because my older brother was explaining to me that it was a big deal for Doug Williams to be a black quarterback in the Super Bowl. We are Philadelphia Eagles fans, but for one day we cheered the Washington Redskins onto victory. It was a very big moment for me, as it is one of the many fond memories I have in being a sports fan. I always say that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and being a black quarterback is tough, because no other quarterback has an ethnic label. Have you ever heard the term, european quarterback, or anglo saxan quarterback? No but for the black American quarterback to have a label, that in it self proves that there is still a long way to go. I like Warren Moon, and Randall Cunningham will forever be my ALL TIME favorite, and Doug Williams, Super Bowl MVP…he is the measuring stick of what a quarterback would want to be, black or otherwise.
Chris Murray – Sports Columnist, Philadelphia Tribune
Let me preface my remarks by saying that I was not and never will be a fan of the Washington Redskins. However, on January 31, 1988 I cheeered for the Burgundy and Gold and sang Hail to the Redskins because of Doug Williams. What I will remember from that entire week was when a reporter asked Doug Williams how long he had been a Black quarterback. That whole week everybody raved about John Elway. That second quarter in which Doug Williams led the Skins to 35 points was a thing of beauty. Doug picked the Broncos apart. I had been watching football for 20 years since I was six years old and had been hoping to see a Black quarterback win a Super Bowl. That day even the most diehard Black Cowboys fan rooted for Doug Williams because seeing a black quarterback win the Super Bowl was bigger than the rivalry. Doug destroyed the myth of a Black athlete not being able to play quarterback in a single quarter.
Ron Glover – Starting Five Writer
For some crazy reason I was over my girlfriend’s house at the time. I was 15 and the game was about to come on. I was hoping Doug would make history that day. When the Broncos went up 10-0 my first thought was that it was plenty of time left. When Williams went down I was just as nervous as anyone else but I would rather him not continue than throw the game away. Then he came back in the second quarter and the floodgates just opened up. Watching Williams go to work in the 2nd quarter of that game just didn’t seem real. He was truly in a zone. When the ‘Skins scored right before the half I knew it was a done deal. Four touchdown passes in a quarter – that was something that none of the “greats” had done. I love my Eagles dearly, but for me or anyone else to root against Doug Williams that day would’ve been just sheer ignorance. I went home at halftime because when the clock hit 00:00 I wanted to be near the man that introduced this game to me… my dad. The old man dropped a few that day, I really couldn’t blame him. A couple of year’s back – I was in Mitchell and Ness, looking for a jersey. I saw some of my favorite players numbers hangin’ around – then a Burgandy #17 Redskins Jersey with D. Williams on the back caught my eye – I couldn’t walk away from it. I was $250 lighter in the pocket but it was well worth it.
Michael Tillery – Starting Five Editor
My Pops made sure I knew who Eddie Robinson was. Eddie Robinson was Grambling and college football. The school itself….the band…everything else was insignificant (only because of Robinson’s stature). He instilled a dislike for Alabama because of how racist Bear Bryant was and Eddie represented hope in the midst of Black Struggle. He couldn’t understand why Eddie Robinson–along with Big House Gaines–wasn’t given the proper reverence of any of these Division 1 coaching “icons”. If USC and O. J. Simpson, Orange Juice–as I called him–were on the same time as Grambling? We watched Grambling. My recollection of the first Black quarterback was Doug Williams because of my Pop. That’s all he talked about, so when Doug and his big ass arm ran onto the field for Tampa Bay, it was the proudest moment ever for me personally. Pop wasn’t a big baseball fan, so I didn’t hear stories of Willie, Hank, and Jackie. It was all about Doug.
Then the sacks came…and then some more and gdamnit a whole lot more. Then Doug seemed to float around and I thought, damn all he needed was a shot. Thank God for Joe Gibbs. He became my dude when he signed Doug even though I’m an Eagles fan.
I would watch big games in my grandmother’s kitchen–smelling like some blazing friend fish–in Chester, PA (the same place where I saw Phi Slamma Jamma go down to NC State).
In this particular Super Bowl, my family tuned in at our home in Delaware. It was a big thing of course with Doug starting. It didn’t seem like it was going to be his day–especially after a hit to his injured leg forced him out for a play or two if I can remember.
Then the second quarter happened…… 9-11 228 yards, 4 touchdowns.