Portrait of an Icon: Doug Williams, the First Black QB To Win a Super Bowl

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Portrait of an Icon: Doug Williams, the First Black QB To Win a Super Bowl
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

On Jan 31, 1988, Doug Williams led the 11-4 1987 NFC Champion Washington Redskins to a commanding 42-10 victory in Super Bowl XXII over the 10-4-1 AFC Champion Denver Broncos.

Williams signed with the Washington Redskins in 1986 after a tumultuous time as Tampa Bay's starter and a stint with the now defunct USFL's Oklahoma Outlaws.

At the request of his former Buccaneer offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs, the former Grambling State star moved to the nation's capital to become Jay Schroeder's backup.

Williams took over and led the Redskins to an opening-day victory against the Philadelphia Eagles when Schroeder went down with an injury. It wouldn't be the last time.

Williams stepped in for the ailing Schroeder on two more occasions, leading Washington to victories over the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite his success and team-high 94.0 quarterback rating, Williams only started two games, playing against the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams—both losses—when the Washington Redskins had already qualified for the playoffs.

In the 1987 postseason, Williams led the Redskins to a narrow 21-17 victory over the Chicago Bears and a 17-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship.

During Super Bowl media day, an urban legend reports Williams was asked, "How long have you been a black quarterback?" by an interviewing journalist, but the story is inaccurate.

As he faced legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway, Williams took absolute control of the offense, culminating in the Redskins setting an NFL record by scoring five touchdowns in the second quarter.

The Denver Broncos didn't stand a chance, losing their second straight Super Bowl in convincing fashion.

Williams finished his Super Bowl XXII Most Valuable Player performance with 340 yards passing and four touchdown passes.

The 1987 season was undoubtedly the defining period in Williams' NFL career. He suffered from injuries the following season and was eventually beaten out by Mark Rypien, who would lead the Washington Redskins to a 37-24 Super Bowl XXVI victory over the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 26, 1992.

During their competition for the Redskins' starting job, Williams and Rypien supported each other by selling T-shirts with the caption "United We Stand," depicting the two quarterbacks as cartoon images with Williams stating, "I'm for Mark" and Rypien saying, "I'm for Doug."

Williams retired after the 1989 season with an 8-9 record in the playoffs as the Redskins' starter and a 38-42-1 overall record in the regular season as quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.

His career totals are highlighted by 100 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns in 88 total NFL games.

This story inspires many minorities because the American Dream can happen for anyone, no matter what ethnicity they are. If the individual makes a commitment and exhibits the work ethic necessary to be a champion, they will accomplish their goals.

It's fitting the first Super Bowl-winning African-American quarterback came from Washington, D.C., the same place where President Barack Obama currently resides.

The plight of the African-American quarterback has been well documented recently, especially with the Rush Limbaugh and Donovan McNabb incident a few years ago, but the first African-American signal caller to lead a team to the pinnacle of the mountain needs to be remembered for such a monumental feat.

Before McNabb, David Garrard, Michael Vick, Vince Young, and even before Warren Moon or Randall Cunningham, there was the one and only No. 17 Doug Williams.

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