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Doug Williams Skywalked On Haters In Super Bowl XXII

The resounding performance byDoug Williams against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII changed the narrative about African-American quarterbacks and was a chainsaw in cutting down prevailing myths and stereotypes about the competency of black signal-callers.

The resounding performance byDoug Williams against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII changed the narrative about African-American quarterbacks and was a chainsaw in cutting down prevailing myths and stereotypes about the competency of black signal-callers. It is one of the great moments in the annals of American professional sports and should be celebrated today on it’s 30th anniversary. 

Washington Redskins on Twitter

Washington #Redskins staff celebrate Doug Williams’ 1987 Super Bowl MVP performance on the eve of his 30th anniversary. #HTTR https://t.co/9wzD7EVpC7

Williams’ flawless fortitude on the world stage opened doors for the plethora of black signal callers we enjoy today. On that historic day, Williams received his blessings for being a pioneer, a sacrificial lamb and martyr of sorts as his life journey and purpose became more important than football. 

He took some L’s along the way that not only benefited elite black QBs like Donovan McNabb, Warren Moon and the like,  but opened the doors for Black quarterbacks of lesser billing to find backup jobs on an NFL rosters. 


Williams became a heroic figure and racial ground-breaker in 1988. We still celebrate him today. Russell Wilson has been the only Black quarterback to win a Lombardi Trophy since Williams got busy , so Williams’ accomplishment still resonates profoundly within the African-American community.  


 Despite an increased number of Black quarterbacks getting a shot in the NFL, finding stability and a winning situation with the full confidence of the coach has been a challenge overall.

The Shadow League on Twitter

Black NFL head coaches get shown the door much more quickly than their white counterparts: https://t.co/ARgKGoQP58

 And believe it or not, those old stereotypes still rear their ugly heads in 2018. Look no further than the way Deshaun Watson was treated in last years NFL Draft before blowing up in the NFL and the way Lamar Jackson is being disrespected and dissected by NFL draft analysts and scouts.


Its frustrating to hear it in 2018, so imagine how much pressure Williams was under. He had the eyes of a nation on him and many of the people – similar to Jackie Robinsons experiences in MLB – wanted Dougie Fresh to fail.   

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That night before Super Bowl XXII, Williams spoke to his legendary college football coach at Grambling University. Eddie Robinson told Doug that it was just another football  game…but you and a lot of people have a lot riding on it.


Black Families Of America Were Rooting For Williams.

My family included. Having never seen an African-American QB perform on the grandest stage in pro football, we were very much anticipating the game. We were a household full of Giants fans who despised the Redskins. But the cultural significance of Williams opportunity resonated profoundly with my Pops.

That day, we were Doug Williams fans and therefore rooting for the Redskins.

The Shadow League on Twitter

Listen to our latest podcast featuring @MichaelVick and Doug Williams, who is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his iconic Super Bowl victory: https://t.co/H23QIrgMCj

Pops actually became a fan of Williams, the second black quarterback to earn a starting job in NFL history, when Williams was selected in the first-round of the NFL Draft in 1978 by theTampa Bay Bucs. The young, controversial black bomber took a team who had never been to the playoffs and elevated them to the postseason three of his four years there, reaching the NFC Championship in ’79.



However, bigotry in pro sports was still prevalent back then and a racist Bucs ownership didnt want to pay Williams what he was worth, which forced the proud and determined brother to bounce to the USFL in ’84, before returning to the league with the Redskins in ’86.


What began as one of the most emotionally-draining Super Bowls because of the drama that took place in the first quarter, ended as one of the worst blowouts in history.

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Early in the game, it appeared as if the worst case scenario had occurred. Williams got injured and had to be carried off of the field. Going into the commercial break, an uneasy silence fell upon my house.

Super Bowl XXII Washington 42 Denver 10

Mejores jugadas del super tazn Numero 22 (1988) Best Highlights of Super Bowl Number 22

My loud-mouthed Uncle Mike didnt even say a word. The injury looked bad. The party was over before it started. Williams wouldnt even get a chance to fail. He was twisted like a pretzel on the previous play. The day was looking like a total failure for African-American fans.


Williams was either a contortionist or the football gods were creating one of the greatest dramas in the history of pro sports, because when the second quarter began Williams limped out of the booth like Superman and tossed four touchdowns in one quarter to set a Super Bowl record.

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In the process, he turned a tumultuous first quarter into a party for the rest of the evening as the Redskins cruised to a 42-10 victory. Williams completed 18 of 29 passes for a Super Bowl record 340 yards and four touchdowns and grabbed Super Bowl MVP shines that year.

NFL Films Feature – Doug Williams

Douglas Lee “Doug” Williams (born August 9, 1955) is a former American football quarterback and former head coach of the Grambling State Tigers football team. Williams is best known for his remarkable performance in Super Bowl XXII. Williams, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, passed for a Super Bowl record 340 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception.

After the game a reporter asked Williams, So how long have you been a black quarterback? Williams looked up, thought about it a moment and with the class and grace of a true champion, he replied to the absurd questioning by smiling and saying, Come to think of it…Ive always been a black QB.


Fast Forward three decades and thanks to Doug, new age QBs like Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton are at least given the opportunity to prove whether or not they belong on the field.


JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.