When Super Bowl LVII kicks off in Glendale, Arizona, it will be a historic matchup. The Chiefs are looking to claim their second Lombardi Trophy in four years, cementing Andy Reid as one of the greatest coaches of all time. The Eagles, Reid's old team, are aiming to be world champions for the second time in six seasons, with an almost entirely remade roster. But the championship game is also significant from a cultural standpoint, marking the first time in Super Bowl history that both starting quarterbacks are Black.
Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, who is biracial, is already making his third Super Bowl appearance. But alongside the Eagles' Jalen Hurts, he's cognizant of the weight this matchup holds at the heart of Black History Month.
"I think it's special," Mahomes told reporters last week. "I'm just glad that we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now."
Hurts, 24, agrees, acknowledging the trails that had already been blazed for their arrival on the big stage: "I think it's something worthy of being noted," he told Philly media. "It is history. It's come a long way. I think there's only been seven African-American quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl, so to be the first for something is pretty cool."
The upstart Eagles star is right: only seven other Black QBs have taken the Super Bowl stage as starters since the big game's inception at the end of the 1966 season. Here's a complete history of the Black starting QBs in the Super Bowl and their respective journeys to the promised land:
Season: 1987 | Team: Washington | Super Bowl: XXII vs. Broncos
Williams became the first Black QB to be drafted in the first round when the Buccaneers selected him No. 17 overall in 1978. Nearly a decade later -- after mixed results as Tampa's starter, one year out of football and two seasons in the upstart USFL -- he re-emerged off the bench for Washington, posting some of his best numbers (11 TDs, 5 INTs, 8.1 YPA) in place of an injured Jay Schroeder. Elevated to the starting role for the 1987 playoffs, Williams survived the Bears and Vikings before exploding on the biggest stage (18-29, 340 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) to outduel NFL MVP John Elway and rout the Broncos 42-10, giving Washington its second Lombardi in six years. The first Black QB to both start and win a Super Bowl, he was named the game's MVP and went on to a long career as an NFL coach and executive, which continues to this day.
Season: 1999 | Team: Titans | Super Bowl: XXXIV vs. Rams
Drafted No. 3 overall out of Alcorn State in 1995, the highest-selected Black QB in NFL history at the time, McNair played sparingly to start his career before emerging as one of the top dual threats of his time, going 9-2 as a starter in 1999, the same year his team changed its name from the Oilers to the Titans. The "Music City Miracle," a last-second kickoff-lateral TD, propelled his squad toward the big game against the Kurt Warner-led Rams, where he found himself on the other end of a miracle, completing a potential game-winning pass to Kevin Dyson as time expired, only for Dyson to famously be stopped inches short of the goal line by Rams linebacker Mike Jones. McNair went on to play another eight seasons, including two with the Ravens, logging four Pro Bowl nods and winning NFL MVP before his tragic murder at 36, two years into retirement.
Season: 2004 | Team: Eagles | Super Bowl: XXXIX vs. Patriots
Replacing McNair as the highest-drafted Black QB when the Eagles took him No. 2 overall in 1999, McNabb boasted a similar blend of size (6-2, 240) and athleticism, leading four straight NFC Championship appearances under coach Andy Reid from 2001-2004. He finally got over the hump in the last one, fresh off a then-record 13-3 season in which he became the first QB to throw 30+ TDs (31) and fewer than 10 INTs (8). McNabb was infamously mercurial in the actual Super Bowl (357 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs), falling 24-21 to Tom Brady and the emerging Patriots dynasty. But he remains the most accomplished QB in team history, battling injuries over his next five years to reach one more NFC title game. McNabb retired after short-lived stints in Washington and Minnesota, and his 224 career passing TDs still rank in the top 35 all time.
Season: 2012 | Team: 49ers | Super Bowl: XLVII vs. Ravens
A second-round pick out of Nevada in 2011, Kaepernick was widely considered a dynamic but unpolished prospect. Halfway through his second season, the lanky dual threat replaced an injured Alex Smith and became the story of the year, taking an already-potent 49ers contender to the next level. Totaling 15 TDs off the bench, he led San Francisco to an 11-4-1 finish before breaking Michael Vick's single-game QB rushing record, with 181 yards against the Packers. He suffered a 34-31 defeat to Ray Lewis and the Ravens in the Super Bowl, but only after nearly erasing a 21-3 deficit. Kaepernick had mixed results in his next -- and final -- four seasons. His legacy took on a different light in 2016, when he knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and kick off a transition to civil rights activism.
Season: 2013 | Team: Seahawks | Super Bowl: XLVIII vs. Broncos
Season: 2014 | Team: Seahawks | Super Bowl: XLIX vs. Patriots
The lowest-drafted QB of this collective, Wilson entered as a third-rounder out of Wisconsin, boasting a complete skill set but smaller stature (5-11, 215). He quickly made his mark, tying Peyton Manning's record for most rookie passing TDs (26). And his veteran-level poise was even more apparent in 2013, when he guided a 13-3 finish and became the third-youngest QB to ever win a Super Bowl, controlling the ball as the Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" defense dominated Manning and the Broncos 43-8. Wilson was even better in 2014, topping 800 rushing yards, but he and the Seahawks infamously lost a 10-point, third-quarter lead, and threw a game-ending interception at the goal line, in Super Bowl XLIX against the Patriots. One of his generation's defining off-script playmakers, he played 10 total MVP-caliber years in Seattle before his trade to the Broncos in 2022.
Season: 2015 | Team: Panthers | Super Bowl: 50 vs. Broncos
Drafted No. 1 overall in 2011, Newton was a physical rarity at his position even in an era of more mobile QBs, pairing a supersized frame (6-5, 245) with a rocket arm and busy legs. Named Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing 4,000+ yards and rushing for a record 14 TDs, he hit his peak as a fourth-year starter, nearly guiding Carolina to an undefeated 2015 campaign (15-1) while becoming the first Black QB to solely win MVP, with 45 combined TDs. He struggled in the Super Bowl against a Von Miller-led Broncos defense, falling 24-10, but returned Carolina to the playoffs two years later with a career rushing performance. Injuries hampered Newton's remaining six seasons, which included one year with the Patriots and a brief return to the Panthers, but he was one of the NFL's most electric players and personalities in his prime.
Season: 2019 | Team: Chiefs | Super Bowl: LIV vs. 49ers
Season: 2020 | Team: Chiefs | Super Bowl: LV vs. Buccaneers
Season: 2022 | Team: Chiefs | Super Bowl: LVII vs. Eagles
The Chiefs traded up to draft Mahomes No. 10 overall in 2017, only to sit him behind Alex Smith for basically his entire rookie year. In the five years since, he's already made a strong case for a Hall of Fame induction. An anomaly for his acrobatic throwing angles and clutch freestyling, he exploded for an NFL-leading 50 passing TDs as a first-time starter in 2018, winning MVP at 24. A year later, he threw 10 playoff TDs en route to a 31-20 title win over the 49ers, becoming the youngest Super Bowl MVP ever. Mahomes returned to the Super Bowl the next year as the captain of Andy Reid's high-octane offense, but fell 31-9 to the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers in the face of a relentless Tampa Bay pass rush. Two years later, he's back again, fresh off a fifth straight AFC Championship appearance and another MVP season (5,250 yards, 41 TDs, 12 INTs), looking to become the youngest QB (27) to win multiple rings. He is, quite simply, the present-day standard at the position.
Season: 2022 | Team: Eagles | Super Bowl: LVII vs. Chiefs
Alabama's first true-freshman starter in more than 30 years, Hurts entered as a second-round pick of the Eagles in 2020. Months later, he replaced a struggling Carson Wentz, who three years earlier had drawn MVP consideration during a run to Philly's first Super Bowl win. Hurts was poised but inconsistent in his first go as a starter, but took a seismic leap in 2022, drawing his own MVP buzz with 35 total TDs, including an NFL-leading 13 as a rusher, while going 16-1 as a starter, including playoff routs of the Giants and 49ers. With a running back's strength and vision, a smooth downfield touch and an unfazed businesslike attitude, his aura has rubbed off on the rest of the team. The latest in a long line of trend-setting Black QBs to come from Philly, he'll be the youngest in Eagles history to start a Super Bowl, looking to win it all six years after another ex-backup, Nick Foles, did the same.