By Joel Muhs / Staff Writer
Football is a team sport that requires many pieces and cooperation to run at its finest, but there is arguably no other position that rivals the value and importance of the quarterback.
Quarterbacks don’t just play the game, they need to know the game. Quarterbacks need to know exactly which route their receivers are going to run, what players the offensive line is going to block, the type of defense the opposing team is running, and, in most cases, where they are going to throw the ball before it’s snapped. Simply put, a good quarterback under center is crucial to a football team’s success.
With the quarterback being so integral to the team’s success, that means all eyes are on that position. Especially in the NFL, those eyes have traditionally been on white quarterbacks. Most of the greats that the game has to offer at that position are white, such as Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas and Drew Brees. However, there has been a shift in recent years.
“Quarterbacks now are more athletic vs. when I was in school. There was more of pocket guys,” said Hutchinson Community College running backs coach and former college quarterback Gregg Cross.
Cross is referring to the emergence of dual-threat QBs as of late, especially in the NFL.
“You had a few in college football, but it wasn’t many. And now every team is looking for guys to not only be a dual-threat but be able to escape and extend plays,” said Cross, who played in the Jayhawk Conference at Fort Scott before finishing his college career at Pittsburgh.
Guys like Brady, Brees and Rodgers still toss the magic bean around in the NFL to this day, but black QBs such as Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson and DeShaun Watson have brought a new and electric swag to the position.
“I think it’s good that more African-American QBs are getting the spotlight that they deserve,” HutchCC sophomore quarterback CJ Ogbonna said.
“I like the way DeShaun Watson plays because he plays with a swag that no one can copy. He has fun when he plays and he also led the league in passing yards this past season.”
Black quarterbacks aren’t a new NFL trend. Randall Cunningham was the 1990 NFL MVP in Philadelphia, and Doug Williams was the Super Bowl XXIII MVP in Washington’s win over Denver. But with the number of eyes that are upon guys like Mahomes, Watson, Wilson and Jackson, they have a big say in the football world, especially among the youth.
“I mean, just to continue to follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be successful playing this sport,” Cross said. “I think these guys are good leaders on and off the field and they give motivation to younger guys who are just like them. The NFL is in great hands with these guys leading the league,” Ogbonna said.
There has been a plethora of new talent at the quarterback position that has emerged in the NFL in recent years, with many of those players being Black. Although they all have ground to make up before they catch the true titans of the game, there is no reason to believe a guy like Mahomes or Watson can’t achieve GOAT status by the end of their careers.
“It’s very cool that most of the top QBs in the NFL are African American and are playing at such a high level. It makes me feel good,” Ogbonna said.