Tag Archive for: black quarterback

The 2024 NFL draft has the potential to be another strong showing for black quarterbacks, continuing the trend of increasing representation at the league’s highest-profile position. While this year’s draft might not replicate the historic feat of 2023, with three black QBs selected in the top four picks, the upcoming class boasts some very talented prospects who are poised to make an impact.

Over the years, the Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA) has played a vital role in championing diversity within the NFL at all levels. This year’s draft potential is a testament to the continued progress that the FPA and similarly aligned organizations have made toward helping minorities excel at the highest level of professional football.

Top Prospects for the 2024 NFL Draft

The 2024 NFL draft features a promising trio of black quarterbacks who are projected to be picked early on:

  • Caleb Williams (USC): A dynamic dual-threat quarterback with a knack for the spectacular, Caleb Williams burst onto the national scene at USC and was the catalyst for the Trojans’ resurgence. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, Williams possesses elite arm strength, pinpoint accuracy, and the elusiveness to create big plays with his legs. His experience in Lincoln Riley’s high-powered offense makes him pro-ready and he has the potential to be an immediate franchise-altering talent at the NFL level.
  • Jayden Daniels (LSU): An extraordinary athlete and proven leader, Jaden Daniels became a transformative figure at LSU. He possesses all the tools of a modern NFL quarterback – a powerful arm, exceptional mobility, and the composure to make smart decisions under pressure. Daniels became the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to reach both 350 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in a single game, which was the high point of a record-smashing 2023 season. His Heisman Trophy win capped an outstanding college career.
  • Michael Penix Jr. (Washington): Resilient and remarkably talented, Michael Penix Jr. authored an inspirational comeback with the Washington Huskies. Overcoming past injuries, he blossomed into a prolific passer, twice shattering the university’s single-season passing yard record and leading the Huskies to the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Renowned for his deep ball accuracy, pocket presence, and knack for leading his team to victory, Penix emerged as one of the nation’s most exciting quarterbacks. His combination of raw skill and determination make him a highly intriguing NFL prospect.

Building on Breakthroughs: The Recent Rise in Top Black Quarterback Prospects

The 1999 NFL draft marked a groundbreaking moment, with Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, and Daunte Culpepper becoming the first trio of black quarterbacks selected in the first round. This shattered barriers and paved the way for future successes as the 21st Century approached. The most recent decade has seen a remarkable acceleration in the rise of black QBs in the NFL, and they are changing the way the league perceives this pivotal position.

Here are some of the key milestones that black quarterbacks have achieved during the past decade:

  • 2017 – A New Generation Emerges: Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson entering the league as first-round picks signaled a new era. They showcased the exceptional talent and leadership capabilities of black quarterbacks, challenging traditional narratives.
  • Continued Momentum (2019-2021): Drafts from 2019 to 2021 saw a consistent trend of black quarterbacks landing in the first round, with Kyler Murray going first overall in 2019. The selections of Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance further cemented the growing influence of black quarterbacks throughout the NFL.
  • 2023 – A Watershed Moment: The 2023 NFL Draft stands as a historic high point. With Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson all drafted within the top four, it signified the incredible depth of talent at the position. 

The Changing NFL Landscape: A New Era of Excellence for Black QBs

The potential of the 2024 NFL draft takes on even greater significance when placed alongside the success of the black quarterbacks who are already in the league. Superstars like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Jalen Hurts have reshaped the perception of the NFL’s most important position. Their accomplishments extend far beyond the order in which they were drafted, demonstrating dominance on the football field. 

Mahomes already holds three Super Bowl titles and two MVP awards, while Jackson’s dynamic play has earned him two MVP awards as well. Hurts’ recent Super Bowl appearance further underscores the consistent presence of black quarterbacks at the pinnacle of the sport.

These quarterbacks serve as powerful agents of change, challenging outdated stereotypes and paving the way for the next generation. They prove that black QBs aren’t just capable athletes who can put up MVP numbers, but they can also be the driving force behind championship-caliber teams and break down barriers in the process. 

A Lasting Legacy? The 2024 Draft Potential 

Like many recent classes, the 2024 NFL draft has the potential to leave a lasting mark on the league. If the projections hold true, it could help solidify a new era where black QBs are consistently among the NFL’s elite.

This draft class also provides another group of talented role models who will help inspire a new generation of young black athletes. Witnessing quarterbacks who look like them excel at the highest level can ignite dreams and break down perceived limitations. The success stories likely to emerge from the 2024 class will continue to serve as a powerful source of motivation for future stars in the making. 

In Case You Missed It – Highlights from the 19th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Salute to Excellence Awards

Leaders from both on and off the field joined us in Las Vegas for the 19th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Salute to Excellence Awards presented by Nike. Highlights from this exciting and memorable event include a roundtable discussion on the excellence of the Black quarterback, featuring former NFL QB Doug Williams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and former NFL QB James “Shack” Harris. Salute to Excellence award recipients included Sandra Douglass Morgan of the Las Vegas Raiders and Craig Williams of Nike, while the Las Vegas Raiders received the John Wooten Award. Be sure to view our recap video to catch all the highlights!

The Super Bowl stage offers more than just a thrilling gridiron battle; it is increasingly a platform for social progress. This year, alongside the Salute to Excellence, the Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA) ensured that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) remained firmly in the Super Bowl spotlight.

The FPA’s 19th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute to Excellence Awards Luncheon during Super Bowl LVIII week became a powerful reminder of both the progress made and the continued urgency of advancing DEI initiatives within the NFL. The event honored individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies the ideals of inclusivity that Fritz Pollard embodied.

Salute to Excellence awards were given to two individuals:

  • Craig A. Williams, Nike Inc: As President of Geographies and Marketplace for Nike, Craig A. Williams accepted the Salute to Excellence Award on behalf of the sportswear giant. Nike’s commitment to fostering a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive playing field both within the company and through broader initiatives exemplifies the unwavering spirit of Fritz Pollard.
  • Sandra Douglass Morgan, Las Vegas Raiders: The first Black woman to serve as a team president in the NFL, Sandra Douglass Morgan received a well-deserved Salute to Excellence Award. Morgan’s exceptional leadership, innovation, and ability to drive change embodies the power of breaking barriers and fostering opportunities, reflecting the values that Fritz Pollard championed.

John Wooten Award Winner: The Las Vegas Raiders

Dedicated to honoring exceptional efforts in advancing DEI in the NFL, the John Wooten Award went to the Las Vegas Raiders organization. The Raiders’ commitment to championing minority candidates for coaching and executive roles reflects the core mission of the FPA, demonstrating that progress is possible when values translate into actions.

The FPA’s program during Super Bowl LVIII reminded us that true champions of equality don’t just talk about DEI, they put in the work to make it a reality. This year’s honorees are shining examples of this unwavering drive.

The Emergence of Black Quarterbacks in the NFL

The Super Bowl stage, with its spotlight on athletic excellence, served as a stark reminder of the long and difficult road Black quarterbacks have faced in the NFL. Historically, deeply rooted biases and stereotypes about leadership and decision-making abilities created significant barriers for minority players at the quarterback position.

Pioneers like James “Shack” Harris, the first Black quarterback to start an NFL season opener, and Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl and be named its MVP, shattered these harmful misconceptions and paved the way for a new era where minority quarterbacks are not an anomaly, but a driving force in the league.

Today, stars like Patrick Mahomes, a three-time Super Bowl champion and multiple-time MVP, and Lamar Jackson continue to break records and redefine what it means to be an elite NFL quarterback. Their success, combined with the rising prominence of numerous other minority quarterbacks across the league, signifies a major milestone in the fight for inclusivity.

This evolution has not gone unnoticed. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly acknowledged the progress made, including an NFL record 14 Black quarterbacks starting week 1 of the 2023 season, yet also understands there’s more work to be done. The presence of Black quarterbacks at the forefront of the NFL stands as a testament to the talent and perseverance of athletes who faced down prejudice, and to the ongoing work of organizations like the Fritz Pollard Alliance in ensuring a more equitable future for the sport.

2024: Another Year for Black Quarterbacks

The upcoming NFL season promises to build on the momentum of excellence at the QB position for African Americans. On the heels of a thrilling Super Bowl LVIII showcasing historic talent, the 2024 NFL draft is already buzzing with anticipation. Prospects like Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Michael Penix Jr. have the potential to make an immediate impact and further cement the status of Black quarterbacks as dominant forces within the league.

The ongoing rise of quarterbacks of color is transforming the sport. More than simply adding athletic prowess, this shift in leadership creates a ripple effect. It inspires young athletes, challenges outdated biases, and contributes to a more dynamic, representative NFL that reflects the best of what the sport can be. It is also kindling the beginning of a revolution in front offices and coaching staffs around the league as more women and people of color earn team president, general manager, front office, and coaching positions.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance’s Work and Challenges

The FPA understands that the spotlight of the Super Bowl and recognition of DEI success stories are only part of an ongoing battle. Their core mission remains steadfast: championing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the NFL and throughout the broader sports landscape. The FPA actively works to create pathways for minorities to excel in coaching, front-office, and scouting roles, ensuring that diverse talent gets fair consideration and opportunities to thrive.

The FPA still faces significant challenges, however. Among them is the need to protect and further refine the Rooney Rule, a policy designed to increase minority representation in head coaching positions across the NFL. Recent attacks on the rule reflect a broader backlash against DEI initiatives nationwide, posing a direct threat to progress.

The FPA remains unflinching in its commitment to advocacy. They are working tirelessly to expose and dismantle systemic barriers that limit opportunities for minorities within the sports industry. Recognizing that lasting change requires constant vigilance and collaboration with partners like the NFL, the FPA continues its mission, inspired by the legacy of Fritz Pollard.

The Road Ahead: A Call for Ongoing DEI Commitment

Though the 2023-24 season saw great successes and milestones achieved, the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s work is far from over. While celebrating the strides made, the organization remains deeply committed to building a more just and inclusive future for the NFL and the sports industry as a whole. From advocating for minority coaches and executives to ensuring the Rooney Rule remains robust, the FPA continues to serve as a powerful voice for change.

The NFL, along with its devoted fanbase, holds immense power to shape the trajectory of progress. By actively supporting the rise of minority athletes and embracing the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the world of football can set an example for other sports and industries to follow.