MIAMI: Patrick Mahomes will battle against the weight of history as well the vaunted San Francisco defense as he attempts to join an exclusive club of Super Bowl winners on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
The gifted Kansas City star would become only the third quarterback of African-American descent to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy if the Chiefs prevail in this weekend’s NFL showpiece.
Mahomes, the son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Pat Mahomes, will become one of only seven African-American quarterbacks to start in the Super Bowl when he takes to the field at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
Only two of that group — the Washington Redskins’ Doug Williams in 1988 and the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson in 2014 — have ever gone on to win the coveted NFL title.
Mahomes, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, said Tuesday he is relishing the challenge of joining Williams and Wilson in the winner’s circle.
“The best thing about it is you’re showing kids that no matter where you grow up, what race you are, that you can achieve your dream,” Mahomes told reporters.
“For me, being a black quarterback — having a black dad and a white mom — it just shows that it doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter if you’re a baseball player or basketball player, follow your dreams.
“Whatever your dreams are, put the work ethic in and you can be there at the end of the day.”
Mahomes is in the vanguard of a crop of young African-American quarterbacks who have emerged to dominate the NFL this year.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is jostling to succeed Mahomes as the regular season MVP after a record-breaking year, while the Houston Texans reached the second round of the playoffs after a strong campaign from quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Factor in the likes of Seahawks veteran Wilson, the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and the Arizona Cardinals’ talented rookie Kyler Murray, and it’s easy to see why 2019 has been billed as the NFL’s “Year of the Black Quarterback.”
It wasn’t always thus.
For years, crude, racial stereotyping had steered talented black players away from the quarterback position. A generation ago, a player with the dynamic rushing game of Baltimore’s Jackson would quite likely have ended up as a running back.
And while the NFL celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, it was not until 1968 that the league saw its first black quarterback, when Marlin Briscoe started for the Denver Broncos.
A decade later, Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback to be chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft. Nine years after that came his Super Bowl win with the Redskins.
Mahomes says Williams helped lay the foundations for the current crop of African-American quarterbacks.
“My grandpa was a Redskins fan because of Doug Williams, and the way that he was able to be the Super Bowl MVP and do all those different things was impressive,” Mahomes said Tuesday.
“Having those guys to pave the way before me and let me be in this seat at this podium at this Super Bowl, it’s amazing and I’m glad they did that for us.”
In an interview this week with The Undefeated website, Texans signal-caller Watson said he believes the latest generation of minority quarterbacks can be similarly influential.
“It feels good to know we’re having an impact,” Watson said.
“Our performance gives the young guys a lot more confidence — seeing us at a young age, especially African-American quarterbacks having all this success we’re having in the NFL.
“The reality is that a lot of young brothers don’t really have the confidence, don’t have the resources to even have the confidence to think that they can make it at this level. Now they can look up to us.”