Black quarterback numbers show progress
Fred Jeter | 8/31/2023, 6 p.m.
The NFL’s fraternity of starting Black quarterbacks continues to grow.
This season’s first-year starters include Desmond Ridder, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young and Jordan Love.
Black QBs on the highest level are becoming almost the rule rather than the exception.
Counting Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa, of African/Pacific Islander ancestry, there are 15 QB’s of color representing the 32 franchises.
Always subject to change, the five first-year starters add their names to 10 returnees.
• Ridder (Atlanta): second season out of Cincinnati; played behind Marcus Mariota until 14th game a year ago.
• Stroud (Houston): second overall pick in 2023 draft out of Ohio State.
• Richardson (Indianapolis): fourth overall pick in 2023 draft out of Florida.
• Young (Carolina): first overall pick in 2023 draft out of Alabama.
• Love (Green Bay): first round pick in 2020 out of Utah State; was Carson Rodgers’ backup the past three seasons.
All face difficult rebuilding assignments. In 2022, Carolina and Atlanta were 7-10, Indianapolis 4-12, Houston 3-13 and Green Bay 8-9 in the iconic Rodgers’ final season.
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• Russell Wilson (Denver): out of Wisconsin; second season with Broncos after 10 seasons in Seattle.
• Geno Smith (Seattle): West Virginia; in 11th NFL season, succeeded Wilson with Seahawks in 2022.
• Dak Prescott (Dallas): Mississippi State; in eighth season as Cowboys’ starter.
• Deshaun Watson (Cleveland): Florida State; in second season with Browns after three seasons in Houston.
• Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City): Texas Tech; in seventh season with Chiefs.
• Kyler Murray (Arizona): Oklahoma; in fifth season with Cardinals.
• Lamar Jackson (Baltimore): Louisville; in sixth season with Ravens.
• Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia): Oklahoma; in fourth season with Eagles.
• Tua Tagovailoa (Miami): Alabama; fourth season with Dolphins.
• Justin Fields (Chicago): Ohio State; in fourth season with Bears.
In last year’s Super Bowl, Mahomes and Hurts faced off with the Chiefs prevailing. It was the first time both finalists had starting Black quarterbacks.
As of 1999, there were still 13 NFL franchises that had never had a Black starting QB.
The first Black starters were Marlin Briscoe with Denver in 1968, James Harris with Buffalo in 1974 and Joe Gilliam with Pittsburgh in 1973.
The list of Black QBs will likely swell.
This season’s top QBs include numerous black athletes, starting with Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at Southern Cal. Barring the unexpected, Williams will be the first overall pick in the 2024 draft.
Other up-and-comers are K.J. Jefferson at Arkansas, Jayden Daniels at LSU and Taulia Tagovailoa (Tua’s brother) at Maryland.