VIDEO: ’99 NFL Draft And The Rise Of The Franchise Black QB

In 1999, five quarterbacks went in the first round, with a record three of them, being Black prospects.

When the Baltimore Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson with the 32nd overall pick in 2018, Jackson became just the 20th African-American quarterback selected in the NFL’s first round. The Draft that changed perceptions on the viability of the Black quarterback as a franchise player was the 1999 NFL Draft.

That year, five quarterbacks went in the first round, with three being African-American. Syracuse QB Donovan McNabb went No. 2 to the Philadelphia Eagles, followed by Oregon’s Akili Smith at No. 3 to the Cincinnati Bengals, and UCF’s Daunte Culpepper at No. 11 to the Minnesota Vikings. It was a watershed moment for Black quarterbacks.

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While Smith was considered to be a bust, McNabb and Culpepper turned out to be two of the best quarterbacks of their era. With over 37,000 yards passing, McNabb ranks in the top 25 all-time in passing yards and is a six-time Pro Bowler.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Culpepper led the NFL with more than 4,700 passing yards in 2004 before a devastating knee injury curtailed his rising career.

Together, these players helped usher in the age of the dual-threat QB by dismissing the myth that Black quarterbacks have athleticism but can’t think critically or lead explosive pro-style, aerial offenses. 

Check out the TSL vid and let’s take a walk down memory lane.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, 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.