I have been fortunate to witness many unforgettable sporting moments, not least the miracle of Istanbul when Liverpool reversed a 3-0 half time deficit to defeat AC Milan and win the European Champions' League.
However, this "We are Marshall" moment takes me back to the age of 14—the days when Superbowl was a prayer answered, as it meant I could stay up late.
In January 1988, Superbowl XXII at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, the Washington Redskins were there apparently to make up the numbers. After one Quarter, it seemed evident why—as John Elway at his brilliant and impudent best threw a 56 yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage, and also became the first QB to make a pass reception in Superbowl history as the Broncos led 10-0.
Added to this, the Redskins were without their leading Running Back, George Rogers, and Art Monk had barely passed a fitness test prior to the match.
Their Quarterback was one Doug Williams, drafted out of Grambling State, who had led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Playoffs earlier in his career before tasting defeat. His career had taken a tragic downturn following the death of his wife and his release from the Florida franchise.
He played in the USFL briefly before Joe Gibbs gave him the opportunity to be the backup QB for the Redskins. He waited patiently for his opportunity, and no sooner did it come than he was injured.
However, Jay Schroeder's inconsistent form meant that Williams would start Superbowl XXII—becoming the first black quarterback to play in a Championship game.
Facing a 10-0 deficit, and having hobbled from the field in the 1st Quarter following a collision with star Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenberg, the obituaries were already being penned both for Williams and the Redskins.
The next 15 minutes will go down in the annals as one of the most astonishing quarters of football ever seen, into the realms of fantasy.
Driven by the emotion of all that had preceded the rest of his life, Doug Williams led the Redskins to a Suberbowl Record 35 points in a single quarter, as they would end up destroying the Broncos 42-10.
His 4 touchdown passes—two to Ricky Sanders and one each to Gary Clark and Clint Didier—were perfectly executed spirals, and the drama was captured magnificently by Messrs Gifford, Michaels, and Dierdorf in the broadcast booth.
Doug Williams was not close to being a "Hall of Famer", and he would admit to being no more than a solid NFL QB in an era where incumbents were unfortunate to be compared with Montana, Marino et al.
However, his humility and courage in the face of adversity make him one of the most worthy recipients of a Championship Ring. Furthermore, his performance inspired a group of young black quarterbacks including the likes of Randall Cunningham.
In his own words, he went from a "Black Quarterback who wanted to be good", to being a "Good Quarterback who happened to be Black." He was a leader, quietly inspirational and a Superbowl MVP. A sporting moment (or 15 minutes!) that will never be forgotten.
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